Jackson Rider is looking forward to a new challenge.
Rider, who has been playing hockey for eight years, was selected at the beginning of December to represent Zone 4 in the 2014 Alberta Winter Games to be held next month in Banff and Canmore.
Rider said he started playing hockey at the age of fi ve and it didn’t take long for him to fall in love with the sport.
“It’s my favourite sport,” said Rider.
Particularly, Rider said he enjoys how he is progressively getting better at the sport and fi nding new challenges.
He added he also enjoys the social aspect of hockey and all the friends he has made through the sport.
That was partly what led Rider to try out at the end of November for the 2014 Alberta Winter Games. He said he was interested in seeing how other people played and was looking forward to meeting new players as well as meeting a new challenge.
Rider said that while he had played with or against most of the others trying out for the team, he was still impressed by the level of skill represented at the tryouts. He added that the drills were very fast-paced and intense and really challenged the players.
“It was high-tempo, those drills,” said Rider’s mother, Jacqui. After trying out, Jackson had a day’s wait before he found out whether or not he made the team. He said he was somewhat surprised when he got the call, even though he thought he was in the running to make the team, he wasn’t really sure if he made the cut and added he wouldn’t be bothered if he didn’t make the team.
Jacqui said that, while she could tell by watching her son during tryouts that he stood out, she was not even sure if she would get a call for him to join the team.
“I mean we hoped,” said Jacqui. “You hope because you want them to have that experience.”
Jacqui went on to say that it will be exciting to see her son play at a higher level of hockey.
She added that it will be an interesting experience as the players are somewhat segregated from their families during the games. Jacqui said that after her son leaves for the game, the only contact with his family will be as fans in the stands. Jackson, along with the other players, will be taking meals, nights and any in-between time with his team. However, that doesn’t mean Jackson’s family won’t be supporting him. Jacqui made it clear that she is quite pleased he will be playing at a level of hockey he wants to be at. Jackson added that his older brother, who participated in the 2012 Winter Games, is also very proud of him.
While Jackson has played with and against of his new teammates on the Zone 4 Alberta Winter Games team before, he said playing with this mix will still be different.
He added that learning new plays and strategies will also be a challenge, particularly as the team has no opportunity to practice together before they leave for the games at the beginning of February.