Chestermere athlete Marla Wheeler, centre and defence player for the U19AA Calgary Rush, won the Ringette Nationals Bronze medal in P.E.I.
“When we scored everyone went onto the ice, it was just a perfect moment. I was super happy,” Wheeler said.
“I always go in wanting to win and come out on top. It was awesome to come out with a medal, and to have some fun,” she added.
The Calgary Rush team trained all season for Ringette Nationals by doing intensive ice practices four to five times a week, along with off ice training in gyms.
“Nationals are always a hard week mentally and physically. We played two games a day for the entire week,” Wheeler said.
Wheeler added because she has been to nationals in the past, she didn’t get too stressed, she just went with what happened and reacted to it.
Although Wheeler and her team spent the entire season physically training for nationals, the Rush had to work on becoming team oriented to be successful in the tournament.
“We would be playing really well, and then it would fall apart,” Wheeler said.
“We were constantly having to fix things, tweak things, and try to do better,” she said.
At the beginning of the Rush’s season, they struggled with coming onto the ice strong and fast and would end up losing the game.
Going into nationals, it was important the team kept the momentum they had from warm-up until the final buzzer sounded.
Getting everyone on the team focused once they went onto the ice changed how the Rush played throughout nationals, Wheeler said.
“We had to be focused on the task at hand and not anything outside,” she said.
After the team began leaving any outside distractions away from the ice, they got better and better each day of nationals.
“Our goalie played incredibly amazing. We only had one goalie, and she just played awesomely,” Wheeler said.
Not only was getting a medal in nationals a highlight for Wheeler, but she also enjoyed beating another Calgary team during the quarterfinal game.
Going into nationals, Wheeler had set a personal goal of playing strong defensive consistently.
“Being a strong defense and being reliable is always my goal when I’m playing,” she said.
Despite the physical and mental challenges Wheeler had to overcome throughout the duration of the season, expressing her competitive side, making lasting friendships, and meeting new people made all of the challenging moments worth it.
Although Wheeler was playing multiple times a day, she still found time to explore P.E.I., with her family and her teammates.
“I’ve never been there before. I traveled with family and experienced what they had to offer, it was great,” she said.