CARSTAIRS – A hometown hockey player whose career started out in the local minor association has over the years risen through the ranks and recently earned a spot on U18 Team Alberta.
Sade Sandilands, from Carstairs, will join the team and represent the province at nationals, which are being hosted Nov. 3-11 in Dawson Creek , B.C.
“I thought I had a good chance of making it after fall camp,” the 16-year-old told the Albertan.
“I was still incredibly nervous come announcement day though,” she wrote by email in response to questions amid the hectic schedule of a student juggling practices and course work.
Playing defence, Sandilands said she has been on the Edge School Female U18 prep team’s roster while her two U15 AA seasons were played in Olds.
Growing up, however, Sandilands played the sport – which she started early – on teams with the Carstairs Minor Hockey Association until the age of 12.
“Some of my earliest memories of hockey are probably on my homemade outdoor rink at my old house learning how to skate and stick handle,” she said.
During those early years, she was part of a team that had gone on to win two championship banners. Completing one season playing U13 in Carstairs, she played her second U13 year in Airdrie with a AA team before moving onto play with the Olds Grizzlys U15 elite female team, said proud mom Cindy.
Sandilands ended her final year with the U15 Grizzlys on a high note when the team brought home the provincial championship banner, Cindy said, adding the spring immediately following that season was packed with plenty more action including “an exciting overtime victory” at the Rose Series Tournament in Nashville that ended up with the team she was playing with at the time – the 2007 Alberta Warriors – being crowned champions.
“That spring, she also played for the Central Alberta Longhorns team and were crowned tournament champions in the Stampede Challenge Tournament for the U15 female division,” said Cindy.
In Grade 10, Sandilands enrolled with the Edge School in Calgary to play in the Canadian Sports School Hockey League with the U18 female prep team, and has now started her second year at the school, her mom said on Oct. 17.
“She has a pretty busy schedule (and has) already travelled to Toronto and Penticton for tournaments, and will be travelling to Minnesota this week for a big tournament,” said Cindy.
While such an intense itinerary might intimidate some, Sandilands seems to thrive and even thirsts for the opportunity to keep improving.
“I am a really competitive person,” she said. “So, the competitiveness of hockey is one of my favourite things. Having something to look forward to and get better at everyday, is just amazing.”
Yet among what she described as the most underrated aspects of the sport that she also loves, is the chance to meet new people and along the way forge lasting friendships.
“I have met so many people and made so many great friends just from playing the game,” she said.
But keeping up with practices, games, tournaments and school can be quite a challenging balancing act, she said.
“It’s very hard to try and keep up with school when you are gone a lot.”
Regardless, Sandilands remains undaunted and expressed every intention of pursuing her hockey career as far as she possibly can with hopes to eventually play in the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Division 1.
“(That’s the) main goal right now that I hope to fulfill soon, as well as making Team Canada,” she said.
Yet her sights are set even higher than that.
“After that, making it to the pro league would be the next big goal for me.”