Jaci Gilbert often spent time at the rink watching her older brother, Danny, play hockey, so it’s no real surprise the former figure skater grew an interest in the sport.
“My top influence is probably my older brother, he’s the one that got me into hockey,” she said. “He’s been coaching me for the last two years.”
Gilbert, currently enrolled in Grade 10 at Peter Skene Ogden Secondary School, has been dressing up for the Bantam 2 team and the Girl’s Bantam team this season. It’s her fifth season as a hockey player and has been playing up front as a winger.
She said her favourite thing about playing hockey is just being on the ice and working together with her teammates.
It’s her first season on the girl’s bantam team and described it as one of her best memories of being a hockey player.
“I started to understand what it was like to have a 100 per cent supportive team,” Gilbert said. “The girls are more supportive and they’re very hard working… It’s helped build up my skill.”
Wade Balbernie coaches the girl’s team and Gilbert said with his coaching and direction, she has improved her skills.
“My shot has been getting way better throughout the year…My ability to carry the puck has improved tremendously.”
The team placed second at a tournament in Burnaby this season, which Gilbert said felt pretty good.
Another of Gilbert’s favourite hockey memories was scoring her very first goal.
It was in her second year as a player when she was in Peewee. She said the coach at the time gave her the game puck.
“At first I didn’t know I got the goal,” she recalled. “It felt like I was actually getting better.”
Gilbert said she is not sure what hockey has in store for her in the future. She said she didn’t know if she was good enough to take the sport any further.
She was more sure of her future in the working force though. The Grade 10 student said she intends to go to pre-med school after she graduates and then onto medical school where she will get her degree.
“Just being able to help people, like possibly save someone’s life,” said Gilbert as an explanation.