Shooting pucks on the pond with her dad and brother was something Julie Pink did during the tough winters when she was growing up in Burgeo.
She would skate for hours on end and never had a care in the world.
It was fun and frolic for a young girl in the tiny town of around 1,200 people with limited opportunities to keep youth engaged and active.
The 17-year-old eventually got to hone her skillset on a small, enclosed natural ice rink that was built in town. But, her time there was also limited because Mother Nature only allowed a four-month window for boys and girls to enjoy the rink.
However, four months a year was enough for hockey became her passion.
In an effort to see if she could become a better player and armed with the desire to play some meaningful games, Pink, a Level III student at Burgeo Academy, decided to register with the Stephenville Minor Hockey Association.
It is a move that worked in her favour.
Pink found her way onto a much bigger stage now that she’s been immersed in a structured hockey program.
For past four years, she earned a spot on a provincial female hockey team as a part of the HNL High Performance Program. This season she is an assistant captain for the Western Warriors entry in the provincial female AAA hockey league.
It’s not something she envisioned when she was a youngster bundled up on the pond chasing the puck around with family and friends.
Her parents Stacey and Dawn Pink drive her to hockey every weekend. It’s a two-hour drive both ways. They have travelled the highway in some stormy weather and have been stuck on the road a number occasions because the road wasn’t passable.
“It makes everything twice as hard, but it’s worth putting in the extra effort,” she said of the commitment she’s made in her pursuit of competitive hockey.
One person who has been impressed with her hockey pedigree has been Warriors coach Colin Carroll. Her coach believes her speed and hard shot are two things that separate her from a lot of other players in her age group.
He also said the five-foot-11 blueliner is a joy to coach and blessed with leadership skills so it only made sense for him to reward Pink with an A on her jersey.
“I would argue that she’s probably one of the top defenceman in the league and one of the top defenceman in the province right now playing in the province for her age category,” Carroll said.
The Warriors opened the season with four-straight wins — outscoring the opposition 28-6 — in a kickoff tournament held this past weekend in Grand Falls-Windsor.
The Warriors won the provincial female AAA midget championship last year and went on to claim bronze at the Atlantic female AAA midget hockey tournament.
The goal this season is to claim gold at the Atlantic championship.
Pink is a reliable defender who takes pride in making life miserable for opposing forwards and she doesn’t plan on changing her mindset.
She’s ready to play her part in making good things happen this season with a few new faces along for the journey.
The rink looks so much bigger for the girl who got her start on the pond, but she’s thankful she was willing to go out of her comfort zone to find the peace she now has as one of the elite the female game has to offer in this province.