Paige Nosal has now played in the Junior AA national ringette championships twice in the last two years, with two different teams.
Last year she picked up a gold medal with the St. Clements Junior AA team in Charlottetown. This year she travelled to Saskatoon with a Whitby squad and returned home with a bronze medal and an award for top defence at the tournament.
When going to nationals, teams are allowed to pick up extra players from anywhere in the province to bring their roster up to 18. After winning the provincial championships in February, Whitby added Nosal and four girls from Ottawa.
Joining the team as a pickup player was a different experience from playing with her own team, Nosal noted.
“I had to adjust to their style of ringette,” she said.
The team had five practices before flying out to Saskatoon, including a pair of exhibition games against older teams. She was welcomed by the girls from Whitby and found it fairly easy to adapt to their play. The Whitby coach even consulted her for advice, knowing she had been to nationals before.
After posting some big wins in round robin play (9-2 over New Brunswick, 8-1 over Nova Scotia, 10-3 over Saskatchewan) the girls lost to Quebec in the semifinals, putting them out of contention for gold.
The loss was particularly disappointing given that Team Ontario had dropped Quebec 6-3 in round robin play. Her teammates were struggling to control their nerves, Nosal said; “They weren’t playing how I’d seen them play.”
Although disappointed to be bringing home bronze, the girls were honoured to receive the sportsmanship award at the closing awards banquet.
At 16, Nosal was one of the older players on the team – something new for her. St. Clements is too small to ice a ringette team at every age level, so she plays with an older group of girls; this year she played with the U19 team.
“I’ve never really got to play against people my age, so getting to do that for the first time was an experience in itself,” she said.
She also achieved a personal goal in being named to the first all-star line.
Although the 2009 season has ended, ringette is a year-round sport for Nosal. Tryouts for next season are held in May, and followed by summer training.
Not that Nosal has to worry about getting out of shape: she also plays soccer, tennis and competes in the 1,500 and 3,000-metre events in track and field.