Vail Ketsa will be taking her ringette game overseas this fall after being selected to play for the Canadian Junior National Team.
Making a national team is a natural progression for Ketsa, 20, a St. Albert native who is already a well-accomplished ringette player. In 2019 Ketsa played for Team Alberta at the Canada Winter Games, and in 2020, she won Ringette Alberta's Player of the Year award.
“Coaching and giving back and playing for Team Alberta have been stepping stones in the path to this,” Ketsa said.
"It’s definitely been my goal since about 2015," she said. "There was another girl from St. Albert, [Lauren Henderson], who I really looked up to, and when she made the team in 2015, I knew that I wanted to make the team as well."
The selection camp for the Junior National Team took place last month in Mississauga, Ont.
"It was a long weekend, but it was awesome," Ketsa said of the tryout process. "Getting to meet all the girls and start working together was super awesome.”
The Paul Kane grad recently finished her first season playing for the Edmonton WAM! of the National Ringette League. One of her WAM! teammates is Henderson, who is a former coach of Ketsa's.
Ketsa said playing on the same team as Henderson certainly changed the pair's relationship.
“It was weird, but it was exciting to be able to have that opportunity to play with somebody that I’ve looked up to for so long,” Ketsa said.
"It’s cool being able to work together now.”
Ketsa put up 21 points in just nine regular season games as a rookie in the NRL. Her point total was tied for third on the team.
“It was an unbelievable season," Ketsa said.
"It’s definitely a big step coming in and playing with all these girls I’ve looked up to for so long, but it’s exciting to be their teammate now.”
Since aging out of the St. Albert Ringette Association over the course of the pandemic, Ketsa returned in a coaching capacity this past season with the U14 AA Mission.
"I’ve wanted to go back and coach for years now," she said.
"I really enjoyed it; it was awesome to work with all these young players that are striving to be better.”
The Canadian Junior National Team will head to Espoo, Finland, for the 2022 World Ringette Championships in early November.
The World Ringette Championships are held every two years and teams from six countries compete in three divisions: Senior, Junior, and President's Pool. The Canadian junior team has won gold in the past three tournaments.
According to a tweet from the St. Albert Ringette Association's Twitter account, Ketsa and the Junior National Team are playing two exhibition games in Edmonton this month. The first game starts at 4:15 p.m. on June 24, and the second is at 3:45 p.m. on June 25. Both games will take place at Clareview Arena.