Emily Parsons is shown in this undated photo. — Submitted photo
CORNER BROOK Coming up through the ranks Emily Parsons was told on a number of occasions she would never accomplish anything in female hockey.
Instead of listening to those who doubted her skillset or drive to be an elite female player, she decided to show them otherwise.
Mission accomplished for the 13-year-old Port aux Basques native.
Parsons will suit up with the Newfoundland and Labrador Under-15 female hockey team at the 2013 Atlantic Challenge Cup this weekend in Moncton, N.B. with the best players from Atlantic Canada in the spotlight.
“To make a provincial team and represent my province it’s amazing to finally achieve it,” Parsons said earlier this week.
Parsons honed her skills growing up playing the game in Port aux Basques and for a number of years she was the only female playing with the boys. She stuck with it no matter what because she had fun playing the game and a lot of her school friends just happened to play the game.
She admits she never took the game seriously until a couple of years ago when she figured there was no reason she couldn’t take her game to the next level. She has always dreamed of playing for Team Canada at the Olympics so she plans on working hard and seeing if that materializes.
“I’m hoping to get there some day,” she said.
A solid performance as one of the team’s six defencemen could be the stepping stone to getting her name on the radar of the Team Canada coaching staff for future Olympians. She knows it will take a lot of hard work to achieve such a lofty goal, but hard work is something she embraces. She worked hard over the past year to improve her chances of making the team after she was cut from the team the year before.
“I knew it would be a longshot to make the team in my first year as a 12-year-old, but I wanted to see what it was all about,” she said.
She went back this year with every intention of making the team because she felt she worked hard to be a better player a year later.
She was with her mom Melanie Parsons when they got an email a few weeks ago confirming she made the team.
“We all started to cry. We were excited and didn’t know what to do. It was an amazing feeling to know I made the team,” she said.
Parsons, along with her parents Kris and Melanie, and her supportive 10-year-old sibling Sara, pulled up stakes and moved to Mount Pearl in August so she has been getting used to her new surroundings and life as a student at St. Peter’s Junior High School in Mount Pearl.
It’s the support of her family that has kept her focused along the way. She appreciates the fact her parents allowed her to attend hockey schools growing up and making sure she needed everything she needed to help her become a better player. She knows she wouldn’t be heading to Moncton without them being there for her all those early mornings in cold arenas watching her play.
Sarah, who is a goalie, has been watching her sister develop and having a lot of fun doing so, especially when it comes time for the family to jump in the car for road trips.
“I’m so proud of my sister because she’s been working really hard to get this,” Sara said.
Sara’s youthfulness probably hasn’t allowed her to think any bigger than stopping the local girls from beating her on the glove hand, but she has been inspired by the achievement of her sister.
“I want to follow in my sister’s footsteps,” she said. “She’s a really good player. She likes to have fun, but she works hard most of the time.”
Newfoundland and Labrador has never won a gold medal in the U15 female division at the Atlantic Challenge Cup.
Coach Jennifer Pollett believes this year’s team could be the first to do so.
“We have depth,” Pollett said of the roster. “Our four lines are all great skaters and we have nine players returning from last year.”
Coach Pollett believes Parsons can have a big say in how things unfold.
“That’s what you look for as a coach somebody who can make the first pass out of your own zone and I think she’s one of those players,” she said.
Parsons is just focused on giving it her best shot.
“I want to be able to say I played at the high pace a lot of the other girls are playing at, have good games and know I played well while I was up there,” she said.