Brooke Young’s time skating at the local ice rink in Calling Lake is paying dividends.
Young, who is in Grade 10 at Edwin Parr Composite School in Athabasca, played for Team Alberta at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships from May 6-12 in Membertou, a Mi’kmaq First Nations community located on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island.
The 15-year-old said she was greatly honoured to participate at the event.
“It was a good experience to be at this event,” Young said. “And it was quite an accomplishment, considering I only took up the sport when I was already 11, and I’m already playing at the elite level.”
She scored a goal during their preliminary round game against Team Atlantic May 7, which they won 7-3. But this ended up being the team’s only win, finishing with a 1-and-3 record before the playoff and relegation rounds. Team Alberta did place seventh overall, winning their relegation game against Team North by a 9-2 score.
But playing hockey wasn’t the only thing she ended up doing in Membertou. She also got to meet former NHL player Reggie Leach.
“Meeting him was very cool,” said Young. “He is one prime example of somewhere I would like to get to eventually in the sport. He really is an amazing role model.”
Leach, who is Ojibwe, played in the NHL for 14 seasons. Known as the “Riverton Rifle,” he was a right winger who won the Stanley Cup with the Philadelphia Flyers in 1975.
Young hopes to continue in the sport after she graduates high school.
“My mom is even looking at putting me in a hockey school in Edmonton for Grade 11 and 12,” she said. “Afterward, I hope to play when I’m attending university. My ultimate goal is to play for Team Canada at the Winter Olympics.”
Young has played centre for Athabasca Hawks boys-league teams for the past two years.
“Playing with boys makes me want to work much harder,” she recalled. “They usually are more competitive, and want to win that much more. So, all in all, it pushes me more to succeed when I play.”
In her spare time, she also practices the sport with her younger brother.
“Tanner is currently 11 years old, and this is his first year playing for a league,” Young said. “It’s really fun to play with him, and he also really enjoys it.”
Earlier this year, Young competed at the Alberta Native Hockey Provincials tournament from April 5 to 8, where her team won bronze in the Midget Female Bear division.