After moving to the Okanagan at age 14 to pursue her hockey dream, Dawson Creek’s Mikayla Capelle was forced to grow up faster than most kids her age.
But while she missed out on some things at home, she's feeling like it was all worth it after finding out last month she had made the cut for Team B.C.’s under-18 hockey squad.
Capelle, now 16, said it’s something she has wanted to do since volunteering at the Under-18 Women’s National tournament in Dawson Creek in 2012, where she spent her time as an honorary member of Team Quebec.
“I got a bit of exposure through that,” she said, “ and I was like ‘wow that could be me one day.’ I didn’t know what to expect, especially as a first year going in. It just basically came down to playing my game and working as hard as I could.”
Team B.C. is gearing up for the National Championships in Regina, Nov. 5-8. They'll play Manitoba, Quebec and Alberta in the round robin. The top two teams from each division will move on to the semi-finals.
It’s rare for a 16-year-old to make the team on her first try, but Capelle’s talents in the sport have been evident for quite some time. When she moved away from home, she was joining a team at Penticton’s Okanagan Hockey Academy as an underage player — another rarity.
She said attending the school was a real eye-opener on what it takes to compete at the highest level she can. Daily workouts, healthy eating, proper sleep and mental preparedness are just part of it.
One thing she knew she had to work on if she was going to make it, was her speed.
“For a lot of hockey players, the quickness part is something you can either do well or struggle with. It’s something I strugglled with so, the last couple of years that has been (what) I wanted to really become good at,” she said. “Everyone can shoot, everyone has skill but speed wins games.”
Capelle says it’s been pretty tough living away from home so being on the U18 team makes up for it.
“You kind of miss out a lot,” she said. “I missed out on Mom teaching me how to do laundry and teaching me how to cook. I had to learn all that on my own, quicker than I thought I would have too.”
But she doesn’t regret the decision and she knows that her family and friends in Dawson Creek understand.
“We have the odd FaceTime call here and there but other than it’s hard (to keep up),” she said. “But my friends who know me, know that hockey is what I want to pursue and what I love to do.”
Capelle had a special thanks for her coach, Kip Noble, who helped her realize her potential when she was younger.
For young girls who are now playing the sport or just getting into it, Capelle said the most important thing is to have fun.
“As long as you are having fun, good things will happen,” she said. “The work getting there might not be fun but the overall result will be worth it.”
—follow @mike_carter05 on Twitter.