Dayle Ross of Spirit River picked up a national midget championship after her St. Albert Slash earned a 4-1 win over the Sudbury Lady Wolves at the Esso Cup in Sudbury, Ont. The St. Albert club have now won three Esso Cup championships in a row.
It’s the last game of the season and your team won the game in question.Based on deduction alone that can only mean one thing—whether at the local level or the national level—you’re a champion.When the referee’s whistle blows, there’s something quite different about the display of emotion surrounding this final whistle. In the midst of the hoopla—gloves and sticks flying in all directions–teenage girls rush the goalie and each other like moths to a flame.Winning is the best feeling.Congratulations on that Dayle Ross.“It didn’t hit me, I didn’t believe we had won because it [felt] so unreal,” Ross said. “It’s so amazing and unreal, an experience you only get to [live] once.”The 15-year-old teen won her first national championship when the St. Albert Slash defeated the Sudbury Lady Wolves 4-1 at the Esso Cup in Sudbury, Ont. in late April.And is it the best feeling in the world, as far as your concerned?“Yes, it is,” Ross said. “It shows how much work I put into the game. It shows how much I can achieve when I [put the work in].”By now the word should be out the Slash run no ordinary hockey program, located in the northwest suburbs of Edmonton. The Slash have now won three consecutive Esso Cup titles.Being “ordinary” isn’t in the Slash lexicon. They expect more, way more as Ross explains.“They expect to you to be training most of the summer, to stay in shape and they expect you to be a team player who is not selfish with a good attitude,” Ross said. “If you have a bad attitude, but all the skill in the world, they wouldn’t pick you.”Ross is familiar with picking up hardware but not at this level. The former defender for the Grande Peace Bantam Elite Storm picked up a bronze medal when Grande Prairie hosted the Hockey Alberta provincials in March of last year.The Spirit River resident could have played it safe and stuck around to play midget elite hockey with the locals this season. In fact, she would have been on the team that recently competed in the midget elite provincials, again hosted by the Swan City.It was probably an agonizing decision for the Grade 10 student at St. Albert Catholic High School to leave Spirit River, picking up her comfortable life and jumping into a lifestyle that would take some getting used to.But nothing is gained by playing it safe. Success rewards the brave. Spread the wings and fly type stuff.“I think one of the reasons I left was I wanted to take a chance,” Ross said. “It was either I stay home and be comfortable with whom I’m playing with and playing with the [midget elite] girls. I love those girls, too, but I wanted to take a chance and see how much I could challenge myself.”All that sounds way too practical. Too easy. Truth is, it’s hard.A transition into a new reality, literally, is always going to be clouded with doubt and regret. Transition can challenge the hardiest of souls. The simplest of acts —like sleeping in your own bed, under your own sheets—become a reminder of more comfortable times and familiar surroundings.“At first I wanted to play hockey so bad but over the first couple of weeks in I almost wanted to come home,” Ross said. “I thought I was ready [to leave home] but I really wasn’t.”Hockey common sense prevailed in the end.Luckily, the team was so good the teen couldn’t possibly leave a situation where both she and the team were so well set up for success. Perhaps, the best decision is the one you don’t make.“I thought I was competing well and I knew I could improve if I stayed on [the team],” Ross said. “My coach [Dan Auchenberg] really believed he could take us to nationals and I believed it too. That’s one of the reasons I stayed.”No doubt Spirit River resident and teammate Tianna Yaremko played a small role in getting Ross to hang in there through her personal turmoil.Coming into a dressing room—as a rookie and a stranger—while surrounded by a team full of champions can be an unnerving experience.“I didn’t know many girls and it was tough because they would talk to each other and I would feel left out,” Ross said. “[Yaremko] would come along and introduce me, involve me in conversations. She was almost like a big sister to me and I just love her so much. I’m so happy she was on the team with me.”It’s probably safe to say the off-ice experience matched the on-ice experience for Ross.“Moving away, moving in with [the Pisani family], the overall experience, was awesome because I got to see different things, eat different foods and learn different ways people do things. It was cool,” Ross said.