Fitted out

Matt Molloy
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Hibbs one of three Canadians to win free hockey gear

If Stephanie Hibbs had her way, the hockey season that just ended in Botwood would start again tomorrow.

DECKED OUT — Peterview’s Stephanie Hibbs can’t wait to break out the new Bauer gear she just received. The 18-year-old was one of three youth across Canada to receive new gear courtesy of Bauer and Hayley Wickenheiser.

The 18-year-old from Peterview has always been a big hockey fan, and grew up cheering for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their then-goalie Ed Belfour.

Despite being a huge fan of Canada’s game, Hibbs never had the opportunity to actually strap on the skates to play.

She competed with her Botwood Collegiate friends in softball and ball hockey, but whenever her friends headed to the rink to play the game on ice, Hibbs tagged along as a spectator.

That was fine with her, since she always enjoyed the atmosphere at the rink and cheering on her friends.

“I was always excited to watch my friends play, and although I always wanted to play, the girls didn’t really have a team back then,” said Hibbs from her home in Peterview on Saturday. “There was just the boys’ team and the girls would have to play with them, and the boys wanted me to play, but I was nervous and didn’t really want to. Then the girls got their own team and everyone kept asking me to play. I told them I would think about it, and that’s when we heard about the contest.”

That contest was organized by Canadian hockey legend Hayley Wickenheiser and Bauer Hockey.

Michelle Elliott, who’s involved with the female hockey program in Botwood, read on Wickenheiser’s Facebook page that she was looking to dress three Canadian youth in brand-new Bauer gear.

One person came to mind after reading that post.

“I was at the mall one day with my aunt and saw Michelle there, and she mentioned to my aunt that I should apply to this program,” said Hibbs. “I thought it was a little late to be starting hockey, but Michelle encouraged me to try anyway, and I really didn’t think I would get it.”

Elliott ended up writing a letter to Wickenheiser highlighting the reasons why Hibbs should be selected to receive the Bauer gear. Days and weeks came and went.

Then, in early 2014, Hibbs’ telephone rang; on the other end of the line was Elliott.

“Michelle called me and told me to come over to her place because she had to talk to me about something,” said Hibbs. “She’s involved with grad, too, so I just thought it had something to do with our grad committee. Anyway, I go and see her and she tells me I got the hockey gear. I didn’t believe her . . . and she said, ‘Ceilidh (Price, Wickenheiser’s representative) called me and told me you were selected to get the hockey gear.’ I was freaking out. I didn’t even believe it.”

However, Wickenheiser was busy preparing for the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics; understandably, the hockey gear was a little late being sent out.

“I was freaking out. I didn’t even believe it.” Stephanie Hibbs

Hibbs finally received the gear over the April 20 weekend and the equipment still sits in the bags and boxes it was shipped in.

The hockey season is over in Botwood, so Hibbs has to wait until the start of next season to break everything in. When the under-20 female program starts up next year, and even the year after, expect Hibbs to be one of the first players to register.

The under-20 girls won provincial gold this year, and Hibbs is already chomping at the bit to help her team defend that gold medal.

“I’m stoked,” said Hibbs. “Hopefully, we can take home another gold and another banner.”

As for waiting so long for the gear to arrive, Hibbs said it wasn’t a big deal. She understood why it took so long to get to Peterview, but in the grand scheme of things, believes waiting so long makes her appreciate it even more.

“Because of this new hockey gear, I get to play hockey with all of my friends and all of my girls. We play softball together and we play ball hockey together, and the only sport I didn’t get to play with them was hockey. The girls are like family to me anyway,” said Hibbs. “Since the girls got their own team they’ve been (asking) me to play. They were definitely excited to hear about this news, and I have a friend from Fogo, Katie Nichol, who played AAA and Winter Games, and she’s just crazy at hockey, and she wanted me to join during Christmas. I told her it was a little too late to play now, and it was just after that I found out I got the gear, so she was pretty excited.”

Through it all, Hibbs said she wouldn’t be able to thank Bauer and Wickenheiser enough for the opportunity to own brand new hockey gear. If she had the chance to thank Wickenheiser in person, Hibbs said she wouldn’t know what to say to “the best female hockey player alive,” and that she would probably only cry.

“I couldn’t thank her enough,” said Hibbs. “I’ve always wanted to play hockey, and I always watched Hayley whenever the women were on TV, so I really don’t know what I would say.

“I have to thank my Aunt Marie because she’s the one who talked to Michelle about it. I also have to thank Grant’s Sports Excellence for fitting my skates, Bauer, Ceilidh, and, of course, Hayley Wickenheiser.”

matthew.molloy@advertisernl.ca

Twitter: @TiserSports

Organizations: Toronto Maple Leafs

Geographic location: Peterview, Canada, Botwood Fogo

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  • Bonnie Evans
    April 29, 2014 - 00:12

    Great article. Congratulations Stephanie. It's nice to see a good news article about hockey. Thanks to Bauer and Hayley for making a girls dream come true.