In less than 100 days, 3,600 participants competing in 19 different descend on Red Deer for the 2019 Canada Winter Games. For the competitors, the impact of the Games goes far beyond the two weeks of competition. Just ask Canada Games alumna Kelsie Caine.
“My experience at the Canada Games was unbelievable. I had never been a part of anything like it before and still to this day, I’ve never experienced an event that comes close,” Kelsie says.
Born and raised in Red Deer, Kelsie represented Team Alberta in ringette at the 2015 Canada Winter Games in Prince George, B.C. She started playing ringette at six years old and plays it to this day, suiting up for the Edmonton Wham of the National Ringette League. Kelsie explains that the Canada Games are typically the pinnacle of a ringette player’s career.
“We don’t really have a full-on Olympics for our sport, so the Canada Games is our Olympics and it completely felt like that,” Kelsie says.
She describes the Games as a once-in-a-lifetime experience for an athlete. Kelsie remembers being at the airport with over 100 other anxious Alberta athletes, waiting to board one plane for the biggest sporting event for youth in the country. She tells stories about the bond between the Alberta ringette and wheelchair basketball teams and having cheering contests with Manitoba before the Opening Ceremony.
Heading into the 2015 Games, Kelsie thought she was looking at the end of her time in sport. But the trip to Prince George was eye-opening and Kelsie credits the Canada Games for changing her perspective.
“Going to the Games, I realized there are so many different aspects you can be involved in with sport,” Kelsie explains. “I learned you don’t have to be an athlete to be involved in sport. I can experience these types of events as a volunteer, as a coach or as an official. There are so many roles that you can be a part of.”
This helped Kelsie make a decision about her education. Three years later after the Games, she is a University of Alberta graduate, earning a kinesiology degree with a major in coaching.
But this isn’t the end of her Games story. During the 2015 experience, Kelsie found out that the 2019 Games were coming to her hometown.
“When I found out the next Games would be in Red Deer, I knew I had to be a part of it. If I was a coach, a volunteer, whatever it was, I knew I had to experience this all again,” Kelsie says.
In February 2019, Kelsie is a sport announcer for ringette. She says she’s looking forward to Team Alberta hitting the ice in their first game because of what it represents.
“I feel like I’m going to be passing on the torch. When they step on the ice, it is their Canada Winter Games. It is their moment now,” says Kelsie.
You can be like Kelsie and help make these moments happen! Be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime experience and join Team 2019 by applying to volunteer at canadagames.ca/2019/volunteer.