Water Valley's Dylan Pighin is about to compete at her highest level of ringette yet.
The talented 17-year-old will be playing for the U18 Team Canada White in the upcoming U18 World Ringette Championship being hosted at WinSport in Calgary from Oct. 29 to Nov. 4.
It's actually 10 days straight of play when you count the training camp that opens this Thursday.
Dylan is ready to step up to the international stage after developing her skills here with Cochrane Ringette Association since age 6, then advancing to the Zone 2 teams.
"It's definitely a new experience and a chance to learn more," she says. "Lots of the international girls play different styles and have a different game sense. Everything is different. It's a very big step up even from what I play now."
The centre has a wealth of experience in playing for Alberta and Canadian championships and was a member of a team that won the Lions Cup in Finland two summers ago.
At nationals, she was a member of the Zone 2 U19AA Blaze which made it to the national finals last season and came home with silver. The year before, her team won gold.
Dylan was selected at last year's nationals to participate in an evaluation tryout camp that took place in August. At its conclusion, she was told face-to-face she had made the team.
"I was excited, as you'd expect. It was a big pressure off the shoulders, like, wow, I did it!"
This year's Worlds is in a new festival format and will be celebrating the 60th anniversary of the sport. Her U18 team will be playing a series of exhibition games against Finland, the States, the Czech Republic, and the other Canadian team.
She's expecting the toughest competition to come from the Finns, who typically go head-to-head with the Canadians.
In the meantime, she's been getting to know her teammates.
"I've played against lots of them for years. Some I've played against my whole life, especially the players from Alberta.
There are some players from her Zone 2 team, but also many she's meeting for the first time.
Her Zone 2 team is made up of players from Strathmore, Airdrie, Chestermere, Red Deer, and Cochrane.
Dylan began playing the sport when she was in grade 1.
"It's a funny story," she says. "My dad didn't let me play hockey as a kid and my mom had played ringette, so she said well, let's just put her in ringette. That's where it started, and here I am now."
At a glance, ringette may be quickly compared to hockey. Wrong.
"It's very different than hockey. Lots of people compare these two and you just can't compare such different sports."
Sam Jacks, a recreation director and sports enthusiast from North Bay, ON, invented the sport in 1963. Since that time, the sport has continued to grow in Canada with over 33,000 registered players on nearly 2,000 teams, 8,000+ coaches, and 1,700+ officials across the country.
The sport is played in Finland, Sweden, Czechia, France, and the United States and continues to be introduced throughout the world, including Japan, Australia, Iceland, New Zealand, Norway, Slovakia, and South Korea.
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