Skill and hard work have landed two South Cariboo hockey players spots on the female U16 BC Cup North Zone team.
Caily Mellott and Caitlyn Ray attended zone tryouts in Williams Lake on Jan. 5-6 and succeeded in becoming part of the team that will compete at the U16 High Performance provincial competition. It takes place in Duncan on April 4-7, with five zone teams involved.
Every other year, BC Hockey partners with the BC Games Society, making it possible for successful players from the Female U16 Zone Development Camps to compete in the BC Winter Games.
The Female U16 program alternates years between the U16 BC Cup and the Winter Games. In 2013, the competition will be in the U16 BC Cup.
Both girls play at home in the mixed bantam house league and Mellott also suits up as a forward for the Williams Lake Timberwolves Bantam Reps. Ray plays right wing for the Terrace Kermodes Female Bantam Reps.
The pair was among more than 50 girls who tried out for 20 slots on the zone team.
Making the squad has been Mellott’s goal since her sister, Cassidy Mellott, played for the team in 2011.
“I watched her games and it gave me the urge to play more. Hockey’s fast and it’s a lot of fun to play and you meet new friends.”
At zone tryouts, she thought her chances of making the team were slim.
“There were a lot of girls and they were all very good hockey players. I was really nervous at the beginning, but after a while, I settled into the practice. After a while, you got used to it and it didn’t feel like a tryout any more.”
At a mere five feet tall, 13-year-old Mellott found the jumping exercises of the fitness testing to be the biggest challenge. “All of the other girls were taller, so I couldn’t jump as far as them.”
She was told on the last day of the camp that she’d made the team and was ecstatic.
“It’s great to know that you’re good enough to make something like that with so many people.”
At 14 years of age, Ray already has 10 years of hockey under her belt. She’s progressed through the ranks of the 100 Mile & District Minor Hockey Association program, strengthening her love of the game along the way.
Last year, she unsuccessfully tried out for the zone team, but absorbed the feedback from evaluators and worked hard all year on the aspects that held her back.
“I definitely feel good, and proud of myself for the way I played. I tried my hardest. It was a big goal.”
She has a busy season ahead of her because her Terrace team will also be competing at provincials in March. While she doesn’t get to practise with the Kermodes, she gets a feel for the team dynamics through playing regularly at tournaments with the squad.
Prior to the BC Cup, there will only be one practice for the zone team and that will take place in Duncan, just before the tournament begins.