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When the Steinbach Regional Secondary School Sabres hockey team takes to the ice this year, there are two players who stand out.
Grade eleven girls Kylee Schettler and Celine Caron each chose to try out for and made the SRSS team, which plays in the Winnipeg High School Hockey League. For each girl, choosing to try out for their high school team in its inaugural season was an easy decision. Neither of them were daunted by playing against boys, as it is something they each did from grades one through eight.
Caron explains one of the big reasons they each chose to re-enter boys hockey was the level of competition.
"I'd say the mental part of it (was a factor) too. Girls seem to not be quite as serious with it, and boys take it more seriously, really always giving 100% I think."
So far, they both say it has been going quite well. They've been enjoying the competition level and intensity of the games, and Caron says even the practices have been better. When it comes to adjusting to playing boys hockey instead of girls hockey, both Schettler and Caron found it easier than most as they knew what to expect going in.
"Always having your head up is a big thing," Caron notes. "I think playing boys hockey for as long as both of us have you learn just naturally to keep your head up. Just going into the corners you never turn your back and are always facing to the side. Body positioning is key."
Schettler notes seeing the reactions of opposing players when they realize they are playing two girls is always a bonus. While she says they do receive some comments they choose to just ignore, for the most part they can use it as motivation.
"I find a lot of the guys think, 'Oh, girls playing guys hockey, whatever.'" Schettler explains, "It makes you want to prove yourself a lot more on the ice than if you're just playing girls hockey."
Both Schettler and Caron agree they would love to see SRSS get a girls hockey team. While the school is looking into it, the process will likely take a couple of years before anything can materialize. In the meantime, both girls are enjoying playing against boys - especially when their opponents say 'sorry' after hitting them.
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