Semester break offers European adventure
Chandy Kaip has experience organizing European trips for women’s hockey programs. She’s looking forward to actually taking the trip this Christmas.
Kaip and the Pronghorns women’s hockey program will head to Europe Dec. 26 through Jan. 5, 2011 to participate in the inaugural European Women’s Gold Cup tournament. Some 18 months of planning has gone into the excursion that is now, just days away.
“This had been in the back of my mind since I first took the job here,” says Kaip, now in her third season as the Horns’ head coach. “It’s something I really wanted to do for our girls.”
Kaip had helped organize a similar trip to Finland for Adrian College, her previous employer. After having done all the legwork and putting the trip in place, she departed Adrian for the job with the Pronghorns, never realizing the fruits of her labour. Even without actually experiencing the Finnish excursion, she knew how valuable a trip like this could be for a program, and built much of her recruiting class at the U of L off its merits.
“I think the fact we had this trip planned brought in quite a few of our top recruits,” says Kaip. “We decided to do it this year because we have the opportunity to keep the core of our team together for the next two years. For them to have this experience and then stay together as a group for another year or two, I thought would be very beneficial.”
Horns’ captain Kathryn Manson is in her fourth year with the program. The environmental sciences student is thrilled at the opportunity.
“I grew up in Dinsmore, Sask., a small town of 375 people. I never actually thought I would be given an opportunity to play overseas,” she says.
The tour takes the group through Germany and Austria, and will see the team play games against professional clubs from Switzerland, Germany and Austria. The excursion will also offer the chance to tour the castles of Innsbruck, visit the Bavarian Alps and experience the magic of Salzburg.
“We are also going to visit the concentration camp in Dachau, Germany,” says Kaip. “We really wanted to make the most out of this opportunity culturally, and the girls are really looking forward to learning as much as they can about these areas.”
A total of 57 people will be making the trek, as the Horns opened participation to family members.
“My mom is coming with me on the trip and I am very excited to be able to share this life experience with her,” says Manson. “Both of my parents have always been so supportive of my hockey, and to be able to share this with my mom will be wonderful.”
The team has been busy fundraising for the past 18 months to support the excursion, needing to raise about $2,700 per player. While it has taken a lot of work to raise the necessary funds to go to Europe, Kaip says that, given the effort, there’s an added appreciation for the opportunity.
“It’s always nice to have things handed to you but at the same time, when I took over this program, this was one of the main things I preached, if you work hard, you will get the reward,” she says. “It’s a part of life in general and it translates to the ice as well. It helps the girls realize that the rewards do come, but only after a lot of effort, time commitment and hard work.”
Manson agrees, and says the team has grown closer as they work together toward a common goal.
“We’ve received unbelievable support from family members, faculty members and businesses throughout the community,” says Manson. “It is much more rewarding that we have worked towards making this trip possible. Our team is a very hardworking group of girls and I think this shows off-ice in our schoolwork and in workouts, as well as on-ice in our practices and games.”
The greatest reward might yet come down the road. Playing against European professional teams, the Horns have the chance to impress scouts for when they leave university.
“I would love to continue playing,” says Manson. “For most girls, once you finish playing CIS, it seems like there are very few opportunities to continue your career. A trip like this continues to open the door for Canadian girls wanting to play in Europe. We’re very fortunate to have this opportunity.”
GET THE FACTS
• Fundraising initiatives for the trip included the sale of STARS calendars, providing support for the Lethbridge Oldtimers Hockey Tournament, and allowing the Alberta Cup tournament to use the Horns’ new team room at Nicholas Sheran Arena in the spring, for which they received a generous donation.
• Former Pronghorns captain Kendal Tremblay is currently playing for the Austrian team that the Horns will face in tournament play. Tremblay and her father will then join the Horns for their cultural excursions.
• Both the German and Swiss teams consist of players from their Olympic programs.
• The Horns will celebrate New Year’s Eve at a party in a Salzburg, Austria castle.
For a look at the full issue of the December Legend in a flipbook format, follow this link.