Two South Surrey athletes are on their way to the 2023 Canada Winter Games in Prince Edward Island.
Surrey White Rock Ringette Association players Grace Kemp and Julia Harvie are headed to the island province for the games, which are held every two years, alternating between winter and summer.
This year they’re being held Feb. 18 to March 5 and will feature 3,600 athletes, managers and coaches from across 20 different sports – the largest multi-sport event in the country.
Grace Kemp, 19, a centre and one of Team B.C.’s captains, has been playing ringette for 13 years.
“My Mom tried to put me in hockey when I was little, but apparently I didn’t like it at all,” she said.
Then, a friend took Kemp to watch her sister play a game of ringette.
“My Mom says I turned to her and said, ‘I want to play that.’”
Shortly after, when she was in Grade 2, she enrolled in ringette and has been playing ever since. She’s looking forward to returning to Prince Edward Island, where she visited for nationals in 2019, remembering it as a beautiful province.
“We’re definitely there to compete – we’re there to win. We’ll be playing ringette at the highest level in Canada with some of the best players in all of Canada.”
Some of the faces will be familiar, as many of them have been playing ringette for many years.
They’ve all been training hard, she noted.
“I’m really looking forward to playing with my teammates because we’ve worked so hard these past few months – this past year – we’ve done a lot of training and put a lot of hours in,” she said.
“I’m excited to come together and show what we’ve got – all the effort we’ve put in – and how we’re ready to win.”
As a centre, Kemp’s role is a little different from her fellow SWRRA player and South Surrey resident, Julia Harvie, whose job is to tend the net.
Now 16, Harvie has been playing ringette for 11 years, after seeing a poster about it at Centennial Arena when she was five years old.
She enjoys her role as net minder, where there can be a lot of pressure.
“The goaltender has been compared to the quarterback of ringette,” Harvie said.
“I think it’s super fun to be goaltender it’s really important,” she said, noting she has to be on top of her decision-making as well as her athleticism, every game.
Goaltenders need to be focused the entire game and be mentally sharp all the time, she noted.
“I think the mental aspect is the most important – being able to move on when you get scored on and stay focused and block out crowd noise or what everybody is saying around you.”
She’s looking forward to visiting PEI for the first time and also hearing about all the Canada Winter Games experiences her teammates have enjoyed in the past.
She’s also looking forward to playing a lot of high-level ringette – one game a day, nearly a full week of games – and to seeing a bit more of her country.
“I hear the people are awesome there,” she said. “That environment, where everybody is there to represent something bigger than themselves… I find that really special.”