Alana Lesperance is 13 years old and knows what she wants.
The Grade 8 student is one of the top scorers for the Bonivital Fusion AA ringette team. She’s also planning to try out for Manitoba’s Canada Winter Games team in 2015.
But for Lesperance, it isn’t all about the glory of scoring. It’s about playing a sport she’s passionate about.
"I love ringette because it’s more of a team sport," she said. "It’s fast and fun, and I really like skating."
Lesperance is the youngest of four children, all of whom play ice sports. Her brothers, Drake and Connor, both play hockey, and her oldest sibling, Sarah, plays for the Prairie Fire in the National Ringette League.
Seeing her siblings on the ice is one of Lesperance’s earliest memories, so naturally she took up ringette as soon as she could stand on skates.
"I started playing when I was four, so I guess I’ve been playing for nine years now," she said.
The centre’s choice to play ringette was a no-brainer. She’s always looked up to her big sister Sarah, who in turn has always been proud of Alana’s accomplishments.
"She was such a trooper this summer," Sarah said. "She would help instruct all day and then have a quick break for supper before playing in her own age group at night."
Sarah is talking about Elite Ringette Training, a camp she owns and runs out of Southdale Community Centre every summer. The camp focuses on speed, skill, technique and teamwork for ringette players. Sarah’s camp has helped little sister Alana prepare for her 2015 goals.
"When you meet older players like Sarah it just makes you want to be better like them," Lesperance said. "I watched Sarah play for years and it always motivated me to play harder."
Although Lesperance is holding her own and making a name for herself against the teams she plays, she wants more of a challenge. At her age, many of the ringette players in her area are deciding to switch over to hockey, which means fewer teams to face.
"I just wish there was more of a selection for teams, because we have four teams in our league and always have to play the same teams over and over again," she said.
Scouting for the 2015 Canada Winter Games has already started. Lesperance is focusing all of her time outside of school on ringette to earn the spot she craves.
Her passion seems to be far from fading. She not only has her siblings and parents behind her, but an entire group of 13-year-old girls.
"I find our team is like a family," she said, "so it’s way easier to enjoy that way when you play a game you love with people you love."