Hockey helps Baie Verte girl find a new sense of home

Tana Adams
Published on March 3, 2016

Hailey Austin, 14, who honed her hockey skills in Baie Verte before moving with her family to Alberta, has been selected to participate in the Arctic Winter Games.

Hockey player Hailey Austin, formerly of Baie Verte, is heading to the 2016 Arctic Winter Games in Greenland next month.

Austin’s family moved to Rainbow Lake, Alta. last August due to her father’s work. The 14-year-old caught up by email about how she made the Alberta North team, despite a wrist injury in November.
Austin took about seven years of hockey experience to Alberta. She expected to be playing in Rainbow Lake, but there was no hockey program there.
 “My parents thought it would be best for me to play bantam hockey in High Level, Alta. with the North Stars,” she said.
She had played with the Icepak in Newfoundland for her second year of peewee and first year of bantam, and played with both the boys and girls minor teams.
Despite the 138-kilometre drive each way to High Level, Austin said her team is fantastic and she is enjoying the games.
She first heard about the Arctic Winter Games when another hockey parent approached her father at one of her games.
“She had told my dad that I should try out for the Arctic Winter Games team, so of course we registered right away,” Austin said.
That was early November.
“I worked hard at practices and during games to make myself better for these tryouts that were held in January.”
In November, however, she hit a bump in the road due to a broken wrist during a league game.
“I was scared I wouldn't be prepared for the tryout but ended up being able to go,” said Austin, who still wears a wrist brace on the ice.
“Tryout weekend came up quickly. They were difficult and I was extremely sore but I managed to push through the entire weekend.”
The Grade 9 student said she was nervous heading into tryouts because of the calibre of the other players.
“I was trying out with girls who were 18.”
Despite feeling she had a good tryout, she said, it was nerve wracking knowing the team would be selected the next day. The coaches would make calls to each player who made the Arctic Games squad.
“The calls were to be made between 5-7 p.m,” she said. “It was about 6:30 and I still hadn't received a call, so of course I was expecting the worst.”
As soon as she stopped waiting by the phone, one of her coaches called and wanted to speak with her parents — she had made the team.
 “I was so happy I started crying,” she said.
Two of the boys from her High Level team also made the bantam squad for the Games.
The hockey portion of the Arctic Games will be held in Iqaluit because there are no accommodations for hockey in Nukk, Greenland. Austin will travel to Greenland for a couple of days to take in the opening ceremonies.
She is expecting it will be a great opportunity and an experience she will never forget.
"My whole family support me in everything I do and they're extremely proud of how I made out."
Her grandmother Shirley Austin will be rooting for her. Her father Monty (one of her former coaches), will be flying to Greenland to watch their game she said.
Shirley said she’s watched her granddaughter play while growing up, and realizes the huge commitment it required.
“She’s played AAA since she was 5-6 years old. She’s good and a pleasure to watch.”
More than anything, her grandmother is glad Hailey found a connection that helped make her move away from home go so well, adding Hailey’s brother attends his practices on the same days.
Their dad is a power engineer with Husky who was commuting and decided it was best for his family to make the transfer.
The Arctic Winter Games take place March 6-11.