Goalie friends on Team Alberta show off new helmets ahead of Canada Winter Games
Emblazoned on one side with the provincial flag and a bold 'AB', an image of the iconic Three Sisters mountain range claims space on the other side of these ringette goalies' helmets.
They wanted to show off their provincial pride, along with a nod to the friendship they've found through sport.
"All of us created this bond super fast, so we thought the Three Sisters would be a good way to demonstrate our unity at the games and how we really are, truly, best friends," explains Calgarian Paige Roy.
She's one of three players who will be blocking the net for Team Alberta when they head to the Canada Winter Games in Prince Edward Island next month.
Using the symbol of the Three Sisters peaks at Canmore was the idea of teammate Rachael McKerracher, says Kaeli Woodliffe, who lives in Sherwood Park.
"We actually were on a team retreat, so we drew up our initial sketch on a paper plate with a red marker and it did not look as good as what the helmet does now," laughs 18-year-old Woodliffe.
The goalies all have the same side panels on their helmets, and each designed a custom back plate filled with dedications to their teammates and those who have helped them along their ringette journeys.
The back of Woodliffe's mask is painted with an image of 'Woody' from 'Toy Story', the nickname given to her by teammates, and surrounded by the names of those she competes alongside.
On McKerracher's helmet, there's a quote that reads, "It's hard to beat someone who never gives up."
"Ringette's broke[n] my heart at some points when you lose games and get cut from the team you really want, but it's also brought me my bestest friends that I knew I wouldn't have made without it, and points [that] I've counted as the best days of my life," says the 20-year-old, explaining why she decided on that particular quote.
"If I really had [let] those low points get to me, I would not have gotten to those high points."
For Roy, the back plate gave her space to add dedications to her dad and grandfather.
"I have a big quote in the middle that's actually a Latin quote that means 'struggle and emerge', and it's been with me through my whole ringette life," says Roy, giving credit to her father for introducing it to her.
While all three goalies are proud and excited to represent their province in the Canada Winter Games, they've found something special in their bond with each other.
"When we found out it was the three of us [playing goal for Team Alberta], we were over the moon and it's the first time Paige and I have really had a goalie team," McKerracher excitedly says.
"Goalie friends are like no other friends in ringette because they know what you're experiencing; a defence can try, a forward can try, but a goalie has lived it."
"You can't get upset easily and you just have to be composed all the time," adds Roy.
"I think the mask helps us to stay united and be a part of something bigger than just the sport, almost."
McKerracher says it's surreal knowing she'll be representing Alberta at the games next month, something she says she always dreamed of but didn't know if she could achieve.
She says her helmet will forever bring her back to this opportunity, and this bond.
"I'll have something physically to remind me of this amazing team, the amazing goalie group we have and the experiences we're going to share, and it's something that's going to sit on my shelf and I'm going to look at for the rest of my life."
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