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Competition on the national stage a family affair

Following her family’s tradition, Sydney Nosal is heading off to the Canada Winter Games in British Columbia as part of Ontario’s ringette team. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree in the Nosal household. Youngest daughter, 17-year-old Sydney Nosal, is busy preparing to head off to Prince George, British Columbia in a couple weeks to play on Ontario’s ringette team in the Canada Winter Games.

Following her family’s tradition, Sydney Nosal is heading off to the Canada Winter Games in British Columbia as part of Ontario’s ringette team.[Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Following her family’s tradition, Sydney Nosal is heading off to the Canada Winter Games in British Columbia as part of Ontario’s ringette team. [Whitney Neilson / The Observer]
Older sisters Sam and Paige have competed internationally and now play for the Cambridge Turbos in the National Ringette League.

Sydney plays on Team Ontario, and her U19 AA club team in St. Clements, and is an affiliate player (AP) for the Turbos. She says she only gets seven games with the Turbos right now and the plan is to hopefully get drafted to them.

“I started at around age six,” she said. “Really young, I was into skating. My mom played growing up and then my sisters were involved in it, and my brother even. They put him in it just to get him skating and then he eventually went to hockey.”

To make it onto Team Ontario, she was scouted at the Ontario Winter Games. She’s also been to nationals twice, once in Cambridge.

“And then one year I got to play with my sisters and that was my club St. Clements team and that was the first year we got to play together,” she said. “We also went to Nationals, that was 2012 and we ended up winning so that was sweet.”

She leaves for Prince George on February 12 and the games run from Feb. 13 to March 1. Naturally, there’s been a lot of physical and mental preparation. She was training four times a week before tryouts in December. Once she made the team she was given a training program to follow with upper and lower body workouts along with cardio almost every day.

“I need to be ahead in school because I know I’m going to be missing it for training camps and everything,” she said. “Also keeping in touch with my teammates is a big thing. Since we don’t get together a lot it’s important that we’re all still talking because we have to be able to perform as a team once we’re there.”

She’s hoping to study nursing in the fall and is also being scouted for Canada’s Junior Team during the Winter Games.

She said switching between three teams means learning to adapt to different teams and styles of play. When she plays with the Turbos the players are older and a lot more physical. But she gets lots of ice time with her club team and says the Turbos and Team Ontario have helped her become a better player all around.

“For me, now one of the hardest things is being able to make a smart shot,” she said. “The defensive play’s getting so much better as you get older so you can’t anymore just run in and try to draw the triangle and get a shot off. You have to really work and pass the ring more. You have to use your teammates; you can’t rely on one person.”

Sydney says despite the lack of media attention around the sport, it’s on the rise. In the past three years she’s worked at the National Ringette School the number of people coming out has grown.

“Since hockey’s such a big thing and so advertised around here people would just overpass ringette,” she said. “There are only two teams in St. Clements so people are like ‘oh it’s going out.’ But they don’t know what’s beyond that. The exposure just isn’t there. It’s broadcasted live but that’s about it.”

She’d like to see ringette make it into the Olympics one day. The problem is it’s seen as primarily a women’s sport and while there are plenty of ringette enthusiasts in Canada and Finland, the sport will have to gain stronger worldwide popularity to be recognized on the elite level of the Olympics.

“I want to see more young girls getting involved in it,” she said. “As older athletes I think that’s our job to promote the sport and be running an ice time or a camp so that people know it’s available. I need to keep the sport going and be advertising it as much as I can so people younger than me get the chance because it’s amazing.”

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