The phone call to Micah Hart asking her to lead Team BC into the opening ceremony as flag bearer at the Canada Winter Games was no surprise to anyone but her.
“I was taken back and thought they got the wrong number,” said Hart, who is captain of the Okanagan Hockey Academy female prep hockey team. “I instantly got butterflies. It is an honour to be chosen for that, especially these games that are taking place right here in B.C.”
Hart, who is from Saanichton, is one of five OHA players selected to the Team BC women’s hockey roster. Joining her are Alyssa MacMillan (Penticton), Olivia Knowles (Campbell River), Alley Rempe (Penticton) and Morgan Skinner (Victoria). Their OHA teammate Emma Keenan is suiting up for Team Alberta.
The nomination to be the flagbearer was sent to a selection panel, who took criteria such as athletic importance, leadership, demonstrating community volunteerism and academic performance into consideration.
“We had a number of qualified candidates, and we felt very honoured to have Micah emerge from that process as she checked off every box possible in terms of performance, leadership, academic achievement and community contributions,” said Rob Needham, Team BC Chef de Mission. “We have the ideal athlete for Team BC to march in behind on February 13.”
It has been a whirlwind season for Hart that started with an invite to the senior national women’s team Fall Festival where prospects for the 2018 Olympics trained. She then captained Canada’s female U18 team in January to a silver medal at the Women’s U18 World Championships in Buffalo. Hart currently has 15 points (2-13-15) in 28 games this season with the OHA Female Prep team.
“There are lots of people deserving of this and I know Micah feels honoured to have been selected,” said OHA female prep head coach, Jim Fetter. “I know here at OHA she is well respected not only by teammates and coaches but also by the boy’s teams, along with all the staff members. This says so much about her as a person and her character. We could not ask for a better leader than what we have in Micah.”
The 2015 Canada Winter Games runs Feb. 13 through March 1 in Prince George. B.C. was put into a tough pool that includes Ontario and Quebec; both of which are considered contenders for medals.
For MacMillan it is a dream come true to compete on this stage. She fell in love with hockey playing on outdoor rinks with her two brothers, who have gone on to play NCAA — steps the Grade 11 student/athlete also hopes to follow.
“We still go up to Apex every Christmas and play on the outdoor rink. From the time I was little we were always outside playing. I think it definitely has something to do with me playing hockey now. If they didn’t play I probably would’t have, they have been such a big influence,” said MacMillan.
The forward, who models her game after national women’s team and Olympic gold medallist Natalie Spooner, was chosen to play in the Junior Women’s Hockey League all-star game hosted in Washington, DC last month. MacMillan said she has learned a lot from teammate Hart about taking her game to the next level.
“I have never played against some of these girls so I don’t really know what to expect. Micah has been great sharing all her experiences with me and it definitely has helped,” said MacMillan. “Especially her experiences in this past year, she has helped me prepare and give me a positive mindset as we go into this tournament.”
Just the leadership qualities that landed Hart the flag bearer honours and captain of the team.
“I couldn’t think of anyone better to do it,” said MacMillan
Also participating from the South Okanagan in the 2015 Canada Winter Games are Joseph Ostermeier from Oliver in archery, Ethan O’Rourke from Penticton in hockey, Helene Vassilakakis from Penticton will be an athlete assistant in squash, Nancy Wilson from Summerland is the manager for the female hockey team