'An amazing experience'
After getting her taste of playing hockey for Canada, Emily Rickwood is eager to do it again.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Rickwood, who was one of 42 players who took part in Canada’s national under-18 team selection camp in Calgary at the beginning of August.
“I had never done something like that before. Getting to work out and go on the ice with all the top players was eye-opening. “I would definitely like to do it again.”
Rickwood, 17, plays junior for the Oakville Hornets in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League.
The former Brantford Girls Hockey Association player and other hopefuls were selected by Canadian officials to attend a May off-ice camp at McMaster University in Hamilton.
“I was very nervous for that because, going into it, I hadn’t really been to the gym and worked out much,” said Rickwood, who will be entering Grade 12 at Brantford Collegiate Institute in September.
“I knew it was all off-ice and there were some really strong girls there. I went in knowing I was below average . . . but it was a great experience.”
Training with other elite hockey players pushed Rickwood to work hard through the summer in preparation for the Aug. 5-13 camp in Calgary.
“I knew I got stronger,” said Rickwood, a defenceman who scored seven goals and added 11 assists in 38 games as a rookie with Oakville last season.
“It felt pretty good to see that progress after putting in all that hard work.”
The days in Calgary were long – normally from about 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. - with practices, scrimmages and off-ice work being completed. A highlight was taking on Russia’s under-18 team.
“It was my first international game so I didn’t know what to expect,” Rickwood said. “It was so cool to know that you were playing girls from another country.
“It was awesome.”
After the camp ended, Rickwood wasn’t selected for Canada’s under-18 team. But that isn’t deterring her.
“I was hoping to make it,” said Rickwood. “It was so hard to tell who had a shot to make it because everyone was so good.
“I was upset but then it motivated me to push and work harder.”
There may still be changes to Canada’s roster prior to the under-18 world championship and Rickwood is working hard with the hope she still may get the call.
Meantime, she is looking forward to attending the University of New Hampshire in 2018. She choose New Hampshire from among a few NCAA offers.
“The main thing for New Hampshire was the coaches were amazing,” she said. “And the arena is Olympic size. That’s something I really love and I think can be a positive impact on my game.”
She started playing hockey when she was six or seven.
“My brother was doing a learn to skate and he didn’t like it,” she said. “We had paid for it so my dad told me to go out and try it and I loved it.”
Since then, her mom, Sam, and dad, Garth, have helped to motivate her.
“The main thing for me is I definitely could not have done any of this without my family and friends supporting me,” she said.
“When times got tough and I was doubting myself, everyone was there picking me up. That was a huge motivator for me. It pushed me to keep going and not give up.”