Fresh from a trip back east and visits to Dartmouth University in New Hampshire and Yale University, Squamish's Jaime Jacquard-Sowa is stoked about the busy hockey season ahead.
The 17-year-old Grade 12 student was selected this summer to attend the Best Ever Female Under-18 Provincial Selection Camp in Osoyoos last month.
"It was a very grueling camp as I was nursing a wrist injury," Jaime told The Chief. "I was able to overcome this though and was very excited to be selected.
"There were 47 very talented female hockey players and it was a difficult job for the evaluators to reduce the team to 20 players."
Once the cuts were made, the forward from Squamish found herself skating with the province's brightest stars. The squad was in Vermont between Sept. 1 and 7 to play in a North American Hockey Association tournament that featured teams from all over the continent.
"The tournament in Vermont was great," Jaime said on her return. "There were 16 of the top under-19 female hockey teams from Canada and the U.S. My team finished first in our pool and ended up fifth overall. My team was made up of female players from all over B.C. and from Northern Alberta."
While she was back east Jaime toured Dartmouth and Yale.
"That was really good," she said. "They were really great schools, both of them."
Coaches from colleges and universities attended the tournament looking for the next Cammi Granato.
Players like Granato, the captain of the U.S. Women's National and Olympic hockey teams, put women's hockey on the radar. Jaime and Granato are both on the BC Breakers women's hockey team.
"This team will be a member in the new Western Women's Hockey League," Jaime told The Chief. "The new league is made up of the Edmonton Chimos, the Calgary X-treme and teams from Saskatchewan and Minnesota. Teams from Manitoba and the western U.S. are also expected to join the league in the future. I was one of five under-18 players that made the team. We will be practicing three times a week and will have road trips to Edmonton and Calgary during the season."
Jaime will be in Calgary Nov. 11-14 for a tournament with the B.C. provincial team. The provincial team will also be playing in the Women's National U18 Challenge scheduled for Salmon Arm Jan. 26-30, 2005.
With school just returning, Jaime is thankful for a school system that understands the challenges faced by talented athletes.
"They're really giving me a lot of help with my homework and they're not giving me too much grief about missing school," Jaime said. She added that her friends and family are supportive of her efforts.
Academics are important but Jaime will be concentrating on more than just textbooks this hockey season because even though she feels she is playing the best hockey of her life right now, she also feels she has much more to learn about the game she loves.
"I think there's always room to learn and I'm most definitely climbing now," she said of her hockey skills. "We have lots of coaching that helps. Like the B.C. Breakers that have a lot of staff that help drive you."