She grew up as a dancer who enjoyed playing hockey on Windermere Lake during the winter with her family, but when the passion for the game took over 11 years ago she had to choose between dance or the ice.
“I told my parents I wanted to join hockey but they told me I had to pick between dance or hockey, so it was a big decision but I picked hockey because I felt that was what I loved the most. With my whole family playing it, I kind of just grew into it as well,” said Wasyn Rice.
Ms. Rice watched her older brother compete for the British Columbian National Aboriginal team, something which she aspired to do herself one day.
“My brother played in it the past two years and I always went to his tournaments and watched him and as I saw there was a girls’ team I was always wanting to know when I could first join. Basically, my brother got me into it,” said Ms. Rice.
Four years ago she tried out for the team, a decision that ultimately changed her life forever, and making the team sprung her hockey passion into a high-level hockey career. In the early years of being on team B.C., they went from finishing last to making a run for gold at this year’s Nationals tournament held in Cowichan Valley.
“It was just a crazy experience because I went from my first year going getting last to (this year) we had a good chance of getting gold medal,” said Ms. Rice. “It was crazy; the stands were filled because it was our home tournament.”
The bronze medal matchup between team B.C. and Alberta was a game that B.C. wasn’t expecting to go for so long, ending up going into triple overtime before B.C. pulled ahead.
“We played this team before so we kind of put it in ourselves that we had the game because we beat them like 6-0 crazy number. So I think we put it in our head that we were going to win quick and fast but they put up a fight,” said Ms. Rice.
Over her years playing on the B.C. Aboriginal team, Ms. Rice was given a pamphlet from the Ontario Hockey Academy. She went home and pinned the pamphlet to her bedroom wall and told herself that it was a goal she wanted to reach. She continued to go to tournaments, including the BC Cup for U16’s. A new scout for the same academy saw her there.
“He called me later that summer and offered me a scholarship to go to the school,” said Ms. Rice.
The 16-year-old has now been attending the school for the past two years and has recently committed to accepting a full ride scholarship to Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States.
“As soon as I went and visited them I fell in love with the school and high-level hockey. They actually just recently won their division so they’re a high-level hockey team,” said Ms. Rice.
According to Ms. Rice, for her family, the university offer wasn’t a surprise.
“They saw it coming. My parents believed in it because I put a lot of training and effort into my hockey. So they knew it was going to come along but they were very excited and happy about it and same with all my siblings,” said Ms. Rice.
Ms. Rice said her next goal is to make Team Canada which to do she needs to be invited to come try out for the team.
“It’s hard to get invited. They have to watch you in order for them to see you I’m really wanting to so we will see how that one goes,” she said.
While she’s back home in Invermere for the summer she will continue to go to the gym and train with her brother and dad before returning back to Ontario to finish high school.