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Girl Power will be big for Zone 2 Thompson Okanagan at the B.C. Winter Games in Mission.
Vernon has 14 females on two ringette entries and another 10 on the Bantam girls hockey team in an event featuring 1,800 athletes starting today.
There were 80 players trying out for the Zone ringette team with 14 Vernon athletes making the grade. A second team was added since Zone 2 had the biggest numbers at trials at the Shaw Centre in Salmon Arm.
Forward Saige Woodliffe took a foamy and extra blankets to make the school flooring accomodations bearable throughout the Games. The 15-year-old, Grade 9 VSS student is high on the U16 junior entry.
“I think everybody knows the game and everybody really wants to win,” said the 5-foot-7 Woodliffe, who plays power in volleyball and also enjoys snowboarding and skiing. “Everybody is committed and we all word hard as a team.”
Kendra Ostafie, 14, will patrol centre ice for the U16s. She showed well in the tryouts.
“I made everyone look good and when I had the chance, I made myself look good with good passes and shooting,” said Ostafie, also in Grade 9 at VSS. “I like to score, but if there’s a gap, I’ll take the shot.”
Ostafie says the zone team played an older group of Vernon-Kelowna girls and did well with their speed and depth.
Forward Emma Carter, 14, would rather pass than shoot. A nine-year veteran, Carter is also impressed with the entry.
“We are very fast, we’re smart and we make good plays,” said Carter, a Vancouver Canucks’ fan who plays forward for the Grade 8 VSS hoop Panthers. “Our goaltenders and defence are great and we have lots of good shooters.”
Alyssa Racine, who just turned 14, will be counted on for offence up the middle. She is a relentless worker affectionately known as ‘Tommy Boy’ since she plays Rep baseball and House hockey with and against boys.
“My linemates, Emma Carter and Emily Williams, make some really nice passes so I get some good shots,” said Racine. “Our team has speed and we all connect with our lines in the offensive zone, and our defence is really good.”
A sports junkie, the 5-foot-6 Racine is a defenceman in hockey, pitches and plays first base on the ball diamond, and also competes in soccer and basketball.
Ken Pak of Kelowna is head coach of the top Zone entry, and basically told his 18 players to check their egos at the bus door.
“I told them whether you are a superstar, or think you are a superstar, you are no better than anybody else,” said Pak. “The whole lineup is good so we’ll be rolling four lines. Everybody will be getting the same amount of ice time. Our goalie (Garrett Adams of Vernon) is a key.”
Pak will sleep on the gym floor as well so took “ a double-wide” foamie on the trip.
He coached Zone 2 to a bronze medal at the 2012 Games in Vernon.
Also in the Games for ringette are: Caleb Pope, Saylor Martian, Alex Drury, Evangeline Koshure, Shelby Connors, Alyssa Carter, Caenen Wisse and Courteney Bacon.
Zone 2 will be represented by nine players from the Vernon Sladen Moore Bantam Lakers: Emily Clarke, Tylee Cooper, Jenna Fletcher, Juli Gilowski, Samantha Head, Andie Kaneda, Makenna Hoffman, Makenna Southam and Mairyn Tucker. Molly Box of Vernon, who attends the Pursuit of Excellence academy in Kelowna, is also on the team.
Said the speedy sniper Kaneda, who is willing to spark the team anyway she can: “We have a lot of second years, good skill and speed. I am the type of leader that leads by example because I believe that if you don’t do things yourself, then why should they? With that being said, if something needs to be said, then I’ll speak up and say something.”
Thomas Love, Erik Colwell and Brendan Chapple are entered in curling, while Emma Smedley, Aidan Andrews, Carson Bassett and Paige Latta are competing in nordic skiing.
Elena Gaskell, Stirling Peters and Jamie Rykuiter will seek medals in freestyle skiing, while Caele Kassa and Jaden Parsons do the same in alpine skiing.
Connie Kapak is favoured for a medal in speed skating.
Ashley Phillips, Corey Sturgeon and Erika Wamsteeker are in Special Olympics basketball.