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Promising North Van hockey star tripped up by financial obstacle

Cassidy Wait, seen here with her hockey team North Shore Avalanche, put up two goals and an assist to lead the A
Cassidy Wait, seen here with her hockey team North Shore Avalanche, put up two goals and an assist to lead the A's to victory over the Surrey Falcons in the regional playoffs last week.
— image credit: Denise Wait photo

In a family full of Canucks fans, Cassidy Wait is a contrarian.

The promising young player from Deep Cove has decidedly chosen Pittsburg and (gasp) Chicago as her picks in the run-up to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Still, she holds onto a Canucks souvenir personally handed to her by recently departed goalie Roberto Luongo: The jersey off his back, won by Wait after her seat was randomly chosen at a game in 2011.

“It smelt very bad,” she laughs.

Wait is currently working hard at her ultimate goal of playing hockey in the Olympics.

One look at her highlight reel, and it’s clear the 14-year-old is well on her way. But behind the scenes, she is being tripped up by a financial obstacle.

Since starting skating lessons the day after her second birthday, Wait has stickhandled her way through each division of local girls’ hockey league North Shore Avalanche.

Around her Atom year, people took notice of the lefty’s agility on the ice. Wait began amassing tournament MVP and top scorer trophies.

In 2011, and every year since, Wait made the cut for the international Selects Hockey Program — a coveted opportunity for elite young athletes to get their first taste of high-level competition while developing their skills. Many Selects products have gone on to have illustrious hockey careers.

To date, Wait has played in tournaments across North America and trained with the likes of Olympic female hockey stars Hayley Wickenheiser and Jamie Hagerman.

Wait recently learned she would be joining a pared down roster of female hockey talent for this year’s West Coast Selects team, which will compete in an international invitational tournament in Iceland and Finland this spring.

“I was just really surprised, and excited to have this new opportunity,” says Wait, a Grade 9 Windsor secondary hockey academy student.

Mixed with that emotion is a somber reality faced by her parents and many others of young athletes: The ever-rising cost of sports programs.

“We work very hard and sacrifice a lot so she can play hockey. We wish we could give her a lot more,” says Wait’s mom Denise.

So far, her daughter has been forced to decline a couple invitations from out-of-town hockey programs aimed at producing future Olympians.

Writes Wait on her Facebook page: “Unfortunately like most Canadian sports, hockey is experiencing a shortfall in funding and my limited personal resources unfortunately do not make up for the shortcomings that I frequently face as a young student and athlete, and this is why I seek your support. This is how you can help.”

To join her Selects team in Europe, for one week, it will cost close to $4,000 which basically covers airfare, accommodations, meals and tournament fees. Recognizing her family’s financial hardship, Selects Hockey has set up a sponsorship for Wait to help get her to Iceland and Finland.

In return, Wait is pledging to work her hardest to make her hometown proud, and keep her followers posted on her on-ice success through her Facebook page.

Just last Friday, Wait put up two goals and an assist to lead the Avalanche to victory over the Surrey Falcons in the regional playoffs. The team has now secured a berth in the provincials to be played in Fort St. John.

In her downtime, Wait, a well-rounded student, escapes life’s pressures by shooting pucks outside her grandparents’ house and paddle boarding in the Cove. And, of course, watching the Penguins — of the hockey playing variety.

Those wishing to donate to Wait’s Finland and Iceland tournament scholarship fund can send a cheque directly to Selects head office: Legacy Global Sports, Attention: Accounting, 99 Bow St., Suite 100W, Portsmouth, NH 03801.
More information on Wait’s hockey journey is available at Facebook.com/hockeydreams2000.

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