Just a few days ago Ryann Holbein’s lifelong dream came true.
And now that she’s had time to process it the Red Deer County native still can’t believe she made the U18 Team Alberta female roster for the upcoming Canada Winter Games.
“I’m so excited. I screamed, I was jumping everywhere, and I had a good cry as well,” Holbein said. “It’s been my dream for forever so it was pretty amazing to hear that I had made it.”
“I felt relief because I was really stressed about it and just an overwhelming happiness.”
She will join 19 other Albertans who also made the squad to compete in Prince Edward Island in the Games from Feb. 27 to March 5. Holbein, who plays on the U18 AAA Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs, will have teammate Rylee Mcleod from Grande Prarie and head coach Brett Wold alongside her on the team. Innisfail’s Ally Benfeld will also serve on the team as an assistant coach.
This will be Holbein’s first time representing her province on the ice and has been inspired to do so since she was a child. Taryn Baumgardt, who is one of Holbein’s assistant coaches on the Chiefs and a family friend, inspired the youngster to follow in her footsteps by competing in the games.
“She was a big role model to look up to and also my mom it was always just a goal she told me about and was something I was always continually working towards,” Holbein said.
The selection process for the team was far from a short and easy decision. It began last year when the players were evaluated throughout the season and in July, Hockey Alberta invited 72 female players to a summer camp in Red Deer for a chance to make the team.
From there 28 players were shortlisted and invited back to Red Deer in September for the U18 Fall Selection Camp. After that, the athletes began the season with their respective teams and were evaluated on their performances through the fall.
Team Alberta will play their first game against Nova Scotia on February 27 and are the defending champions after they won gold in 2019.
“Throughout the camp, I was feeling pretty good. I kind of thrive in those high-pressure situations but the two months it took before the list came out I was very stressed,” she said.
“Not knowing and knowing that every game people were watching and every game counted… It was just a relief once it came out and I knew I had made it.”
Holbein added that Coach Brett Wold was supportive of her throughout the whole process and it will be nice to have someone she knows so well behind the bench in her first Team Alberta experience.
“These three years that I’ve played for him he has been the most amazing coach I’ve ever had. He’s constantly pushing me to do better but also giving me the support so I can push myself,” she said.
The U18 AAA Red Deer Sutter Fund Chiefs have had an excellent start to the year and are in second place in the Alberta Female Hockey League standings with a record of 11-4.
Last weekend, the Chiefs went on a three-game road trip and came home with three wins defeating the Edmonton Jr. Oilers, Calgary Fire, and Rocky Mountain Raiders.
“It’s been amazing our team has just come together. It’s super exciting, it’s fun to play, and it’s such a great group of girls. They have also been super supportive of me and Rylee,” she added.