BRIDGETOWN, NS - The 2018 high school hockey season is coming to a close. As the end draws near, the Bridgetown Regional Community School girls team is preparing for regionals, and at the same time, preparing to say goodbye to seven valued players, this year’s graduating seniors.
Sportin’ The A
Emilee Cress (#11) and Grace-Lyn Longmire (#16) are the team’s Assistant Captains.
Emilee Cress is a formidable forward with 21 points to her name, the highest on her team. Grace-Lyn is on defence, where she holds the last line between opposing teams and the net.
Grace-Lyn attends school in Annapolis, but has always played high school hockey in Bridgetown. In her opinion, one of Bridgetown’s assets is its attitude.
“To come from playing for the valley teams, which were a lot more serious, to being able to play for a more fun team which still had a lot of skill? That was really nice,” she explained.
For Emilee Cress, this team and its players are what she’ll miss most when her last season is over. “It’s the one sport that I have the most joy with. It’s the one I smile the most with,” Cress remarked.
Cammy Johnson (#12) and Nicole Vanasse (#5) have both been playing hockey for more than 10 years. Cammy hangs back to play defense, while Nicole’s up front as a forward. They’re seasoned players, and it shows in their confidence on ice. That confidence was hard won for these girls, as both have had their setbacks over the years.
For Nicole, her own personal development has been a struggle. “With hockey, progressing and becoming a better player was the biggest obstacle for me,” she said.
“My biggest challenge is the school part. Juggling school and missing school for provs and regionals,” Cameron admitted.
However, despite the rink not being a traditional classroom, Johnson certainly feels she’s learned a few things from her years of playing hockey.
“I’ve learned patience, definitely patience, and more respect,” she commented. Cameron, like so many of the seniors, is hoping the team will make it to provincials.
Nicole Vanasse similarly hopes to go out with a bang. “I just hope we finish it off as a year to remember.”
Not all of the seniors have been playing for over a decade. Of the seven graduating girls, Madison Weatherby (#18) and Lauren Kaiser (#19) are the newest additions to the sport. This is Madison’s second year on the team, and for Lauren, this is her first.
“Grace-Lyn and I made a deal last year that she would run cross country if I played hockey. She ran, so I played,” Kaiser disclosed, explaining how she was introduced and became a member of the Bridgetown team.
Lauren, who started playing with no experience, is proud of the progress she’s made, especially in the area of learning how to stop on hockey skates. During a game against Par-En-Bas on Feb. 16, she scored her first goal.
Madison Weatherby found jumping into hockey during her Grade 11 year nerve wracking, but not being one to shy away from a challenge, she came back again to play in Grade 12. Madison feels that for everything she’s put into the sport, she’s gotten a lot out of it too.
“I’ve learned to always give it your all, and keep your head up. If things don’t go right, just try again next time and you’ll go up from there,” she said. Madison is still hoping for her first goal, and it’s what she wants to achieve before the end of the season.
Team Captain Courtney Veinott (#13), with her calm and steady attitude, seems to be a natural leader. Before every game, she heads warm-up, and has a commanding presence on the ice. Courtney credits these skills to all of her years playing hockey.
“I think that something that hockey really improves kids with is leadership, and even just speaking out more,” she commented.
“You also learn to teach. Becoming an older player, you learn to accept the younger ones, to try and help them out. Personality wise, I feel like that’s something I’ve definitely grown with, helping out.”
Courtney’s father Keith coaches the team, and her mother Patricia acts as treasurer. Patricia has enjoyed watching her daughter become more and more of a mentor over the years, and she sees something special in how all of the girls interact with each other.
“I’m in the dressing room most times for practice or for games, beforehand, and it’s such a diverse group. Just to see the camaraderie between them all is wonderful. The Grade 7s are making the Grade 12s laugh. It’s really exciting,” said Patricia.
What Comes Next
The Division 2 Girls Regionals will be hosted by the Yarmouth Vikings on Feb. 27 and 28. The BRCS girls team is currently sitting fourth out of the six Division 2 teams that will be competing. The top five teams from Regionals will advance to Provincials.
The BRCS Hawks have played their final home game, and as Regionals approaches, the excitement raises, and so does the emotion. No one can say what will happen, what titles may be won or lost, but Emilee Cress feels one thing is certain: “I’m sure that there will be tears at the end. I’m not saying that we’ll win, but I’m hoping that no matter what we’ll try our hardest. I can’t wait to finish strong with this team.”