Erin Banning (from left)

Erin Banning (from left)

Vernon ringette girls make Team B.C.

A trio of defencemen and one forward from Vernon have made the ringette U20 Team B.C. for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

A trio of defencemen and one forward from Vernon have made the ringette U20 Team B.C. for the 2015 Canada Winter Games.

The four girls found out that they made the team in mid-August and took part in their first training camp in Salmon Arm at the end of that month.

“I was really excited when I found out I made it. It’s really nerve racking when you try out for a team with such a high level of competition and all the girls trying out were so good,” said Teigan Moore who will play on the wings for Team B.C. “I was just so excited to make it.”

Tryouts began in spring with a camp each month. They started with 80 girls and finished with 18 of the province’s best prospects.

The Games take place Feb. 13-March 1 in Prince George. This team is looking to improve on the 2011 Winter Games team that finished 1-2 in Halifax.

When it comes to ringette coaches, the ring stops with Cathy Lipsett. She has been at the helm for more that 20 years and captured gold and bronze medals in the past at the Games.

“I’m feeling really positive so far,” said Lipsett, as the team geared up for a late-summer tournament in Edmonton. “We have some very promising players here.”

Added Moore: “I think we have a really good team, we are hard workers and we are there for the same reason and we all love each other.”

The girls went through several team-bonding exercises including hiking the Enderby cliffs and competitions off the ice during a five-day training camp.

“Camp was such a blast. We did so many activities I wasn’t expecting to do at a ringette camp,” said 19 year-old Melanie Wakutz. “We did an aquafit class, which was harder than you would think and played a lot of games off the ice. The girls are so much fun to be around.”

Waktuz is a former centre who switched to defence during the tryouts and loves her new role on the squad.

“As a centre, I was always staying back in the play. I like defence better because I like preventing goals and I am a way better skater backwards,” she said.

The VSS grad attended the University of Calgary last year and took a few general courses to set her up for nursing while playing on the ringette team.

Waktuz is too old to play in the Thompson Okanagan Ringette League, so she will travel to Kelowna a few times a week to play Masters.

Like Waktuz, Erin Banning is a VSS grad and is taking courses to align herself into the nursing program at UBC Okanagan this fall.

The 5-foot-8 defencemen Banning is an on-again, off-again Canucks fan.

“I wasn’t a big fan of the (Roberto) Luongo trade. We will see how they do without him,” said Banning, who switched from boys hockey to ringette following her Bantam year because she liked playing against girls better.

Unlike Banning, Megan Weatherill has been playing ringette for most of her life.

“I started playing when I was four, I just love it and I’m really looking forward to the Games,” said Weatherill, a Kal grad who will wear No. 3 on the provincial team.

Weatherill loved the gym and cooking classes in high school, adding: “I like to think I am a pretty good cook.”

Weatherill has no immediate plans for post-secondary. She is taking some time away from school to train for the Games and work.