Jackson invited to take first step towards Olympic hockey glory

Dave Mathieson
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Only Nova Scotian invited to Under-18 national camp

AMHERST - Hockey Canada has invited Hastings resident Carly Jackson to Canada's National Women's strength and conditioning camp May 7 to 11 at McMaster University in Hamilton.

The invitation letter came as a bolt out of blue for Jackson. She says she was shocked when she read it.

"It felt incredible," said the 16-year-old, Grade 11 student at Amherst Regional High School.

Jackson is one of 102 players who will be evaluated at the camp. She will be one of 53 candidates trying out for Canada's National Women's Under-18 Team, and there will also be 49 candidates at the camp trying out for Canada's National Women's Development Team.

The camp is the first step of the national team's selection process.

"This spring's strength and conditioning camp marks the first National Women's Program activity for the 2014-15 season, as well as the first big step on the road to the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea," said Hockey Canada in a press release. "Following the strength and condition camp, Hockey Canada scouts will continue to evaluate players at additional national team camps in August..."

Jackson is one of eight goaltenders from across Canada invited to the Under-18 camp.

Also, Jackson is the only Nova Scotian to get an invite to the Under-18 camp. She is also one of only three Maritimer's invited to the Under-18 camp, with the other two coming from New Brunswick. (Two Maritimers, one from Nova Scotia and one from P.E.I., were invited to the Development Team Camp)

One of the Under-18 girls from New Brunswick, Marlene Boissonnault, is also a goaltender.

"She's a good friend of mine," said Jackson. "It's always good to see a friendly face and to have a friend to push along."

Jackson caught the attention of Hockey Canada when she travelled to Calgary in early November where she played between the pipes for Team Atlantic at the Canadian Women's Under-18 Championships.

She was named player of the game in a 4-2 loss to Ontario, where she stopped 21 of 25 shots.

Jackson strongest attribute is her desire to pounce on the puck.

"I battle for the puck," said Jackson. "Even when I'm down and out, I keep working for it all the time."

Asked if being a good goaltender requires a stronger body or mind, Jackson says it's a combination of both.

"You can't be willing to give up on anything. You have to battle hard."

Jackson works out at the gym every day of the week.

"I work out at the YMCA in Amherst, and I've been doing a lot of training in Moncton since I received the invite," said Jackson.

She says there is always room for improvement on her goaltending technique.

"I can always work on rebound control. That would be a big factor," she said.

What motivates her?

"The love of the game inspires me," said Jackson. "And sometimes, when you're having a hard time and have to get up and go to the gym, you think about your teammates and how hard they're working, so that always pushes me along as well."

Jackson played on girl's teams with Team Nova Scotia and Team Atlantic, but she grew up playing on boy's hockey teams.

This season she played with the Midget A Ramblers and practiced all season long with the Weeks Major Midgets.

She says playing on boy's teams has been a factor in her success.

"I think it's made me a better goaltender," said Jackson. "The girl's game is a lot different. There's more passing and they use different plays. It's definitely an adjustment."

Whether it's playing hockey, or throwing pitches in Amherst Little League, Jackson grew up playing sports mostly with boys.

"I've always done it and I just continued with it," said Jackson.

Jackson, who was also named Baseball Nova Scotia Female Player of the Year in 2012, said attending the Under-18 camp is the biggest opportunity of her sports career and she wants to make the best of it.

"Any time you get to play against the top players in the country it's a big opportunity, and I plan to do my best, work hard and have fun," said Jackson. "I'm very honoured to be able to do this and, hopefully, I can leave a good impression."

Although this is the first step towards representing Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, Jackson will focus on the here and now.

"The big dream is always to play in the Olympics for Team Canada. There's always the possibility of that happening," said Jackson. "But for now I just want to work hard where I'm at and maybe eventually I'll reach that dream."

She also thanked everybody who supports her.

"I thank my family, my coaches, my teammates, my friends and everybody who's helped me to get to this point."






Organizations: National Women, McMaster University, Amherst Regional High School Canadian Women YMCA Team Nova Scotia Amherst Little League Team Canada

Geographic location: Canada, AMHERST, South Korea Hamilton New Brunswick PyeongChang Nova Scotia Calgary Ontario Moncton

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