Raygan Kirk of Ste. Anne, Manitoba has been named to the 2019 IIHF U18 Women's World Championship team which will be heading to Japan in January.
When Kirk was informed she made the team before anyone else could know and she says the emotions of it all were there. "It was all really exciting. I got the call about a week before the roster was out. I was nervous all day, I wasn't sure when they were gonna call but it was great."
As always, Kirk had her family around to enjoy the moment with her. "My mom was there and my dad got back from work and the whole family was there. It was really great, there were definitely some tears for sure."
The Eastman AAA Female Selects have always been a close group so when Kirk made the announcement to the team, they were all very supportive. "I go to school with some of them but they're all super excited for me. A few didn't even know I'd be going to Japan!"
Being selected to the team was a dream come true for Kirk but getting to play hockey halfway across the world in Obihiro, Japan and have experience's off the ice is also something she's going to relish. "Just the culture and the atmosphere. I'm sure we'll get to go out and see it all as a team."
Kirk doesn't speak Japanese yet but she's not too worried. "Oh gosh, I'm sure they'll tell us the basic's like thank you and stuff."
Being the lone Manitoban selected to the team might seem like she'd be walking into a room with a bunch of strangers, but Kirk has had the fortune of playing with a number of players that will be on the team. "I did meet a lot of the girls when we were in Calgary and we got really close. I'm sure that will continue when we get to Vancouver and eventually fly over to Japan. A lot of the Ontario girls know each other and have played together so at first, it was a struggle being the only Manitoba person there, but you make new friends and now it's really great."
While the might be the only Manitoba on the ice, she won't be the only Manitoba there as she's going to have strong support behind her. "My whole family's going and even a family friend is coming too. It's so great, they're my biggest supporters in life."
The game of hockey has taken Kirk down paths she never expected and after the announcement of making the roster, she admits to taking a little time to look back and soak it all in. "I've been thinking back to a year ago from where I was to where I am today. It's a big change but it's all positive personally. I'm really excited about the future and going to Japan with the girls."
Canada’s National Women’s Under-18 Team will look to earn its first gold medal at the IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship since 2014, having won gold four times (2010, 2012, 2013, 2014), silver six times (2008, 2009, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017) and bronze once (2018).
Kirk will get to spend Christmas at home before getting ready to head to Vancouver on the 29th then on January 1st, will fly to Japan.
Canada will open the 2019 IIHF U18 Women’s World Championship against Sweden on January 5th.