When 10-year-old Sarah Paul laces up her skates to play hockey with the Okanagan Allstars, she is the only girl on the team.
Paul started playing hockey three years ago, when her older brother Simon took up the sport. Before that, she had not even skated.
“If he hadn’t joined hockey, I wouldn’t have,” she said.
In the years following, she has progressed from being a novice skater to a dedicated, competitive player.
“She always has a big smile when she’s playing,” her mother Monique Paul said.
Last fall, when the Olympic team from Kazakhstan trained in Summerland, Paul was able to join them on the ice.
She has also met Canadian Olympic hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser.
“Hayley is her biggest fan,” Monique Paul said, “and Sarah looks up to Hayley.”
As her skill level improved, Sarah looked for greater challenges on the ice.
Over the past year, she has played with a team of 12- and 13-year-old girls, but she is looking for further challenges.
The right-winger anticipates the boys’ team will have a tougher level of hockey.
Developing her skills as a hockey player has taken plenty of time and effort.
Each day after school, she spends at least an hour a day on practices. She also attends two on-ice practices each week.
“If she could, she would play for hours and hours,” Monique Paul said.
Sarah Paul’s hockey schedule has taken her out of school for out-of-town games and tournaments, but her teacher at Giant’s Head School has been supportive.
The many out-of-town games mean she has homework for the classes she misses, but she continues to be a straight-A student at the school.
Sarah Paul plans to continue further as a hockey player.
“I want to go as far as I can,” she said. “I want to play on Team Canada.”