The 2023 Canada Winter Games are two days away, and three athletes from southeast Manitoba are heading to Prince Edward Island.
Lauren Bezditny of Mitchell, Kaylee Davies of La Broquerie and Taylor Rempel of Steinbach are a part of Team Manitoba’s ringette team.
Centre Lauren Bezditny started with the Steinbach Panthers and has been playing the sport for 14 years.
She says that the road to the Canada Games was a two-year process with a year-long tryout and five different cuts.
“It was a big, long process. We all became friends, and now we're here,”
Goalie Kaylee Davies is excited about the opportunity to play.
“Been looking forward to this for a long time, and we've put in a lot of work, so it should be a good week,”
On top of the two-year-long process to make the cut, she adds that being on the team requires commitment.
“It's been a lot of training. We probably meet as a team four to five times a week, playing games, practices, and dryland training, and we've gone on several tournaments, so it's a big-time commitment,”
Defenseman Taylor Rempel shares her love for the sport she has been playing since she was five.
“On the ice, I love the intensity of the game. It is super fast and just so much fun. There's so much excitement going on all the time. Off the ice, I love my teammates so much, even our coaches, we've become such a big family. It's almost sad that it could be coming to the end after next week, and it's hard to think about that,” Rempel says.
She adds that being on Team Manitoba has caused former opponents to turn into friends.
"There have been girls I played against that maybe were like my enemy growing up. I remember the first time playing alongside one of them. And they checked a girl for me and made a lane for me to skip the ice. I looked back, and I was like 'Wow, I love playing with you.' Now, I'm playing with all the best players. It's so amazing to play with them now,"
Bezditny says that she doesn’t know what to expect at the games. Her coaches have “kept it under the rug” for it to be a “big surprise.”
“As of right now, we know we're leaving Friday morning, we arrive, and we have to come up with a team chant, and all of Team Manitoba gets together for a pep rally. Friday is the opening ceremony, so we're going to show up mentally ready and focus hard and dialled up,”
Their first game is on Sunday, February 19 against Team Quebec at the Cavendish Farms Wellness Centre.
With files from Michelle Sawatzky.