#Storm the Center by Ashley Lang
The Stettler Storm Bantam Female team entered the Storm the Center contest sponsored by Under Armour and won! We worked hard as a team and put a lot of extra time and effort creating videos and were rewarded with an opportunity of a lifetime at Rogers Place, home of the Edmonton Oilers. It was an incredible experience being the only female team to ever win the contest and created a lot of chatter supporting female hockey.
In order to win the contest we had to be a Bantam hockey team, register with the Storm the Center website and upload videos to each of the four qualifying chapters. Each video was reviewed based on quality, creativity, enthusiasm and athleticism and were judged by Under Armour. At first, we won a portion of the contest and were awarded with a new backpack and toque. We completed all four chapter uploads and were able to boost our credit through uploading additional videos…With the full support and encouragement from the whole team we created 107 videos!
Bright and early on January 30, 2020 our team met outside Roger’s Place for some team photos with the statue of Wayne Gretzky and began our once in a lifetime experience. When we arrived inside the building we were greeted by the Oiler’s media event crew and the official photographer of the Oilers Andy Devlin as well as the Under Armour team from corporate office in Toronto lead by Jennifer Oldham. She introduced us to the boys Bantam team, Seera Icemen from Edmonton, and then we were taken to our own dressing room where they had our name bars and an Under Armour duffel bag for each of us full of new swag! We received Oiler hoodies, joggers, sports bras, shorts, t shirt, socks, jacket and a base layer to go under our hockey equipment.
We started the first session of the day with videos of professional hockey training techniques. Once we were equipped with the new information we were able to try it out on the Roger’s Place ice surface. It was incredible to be practicing on the same surface as the Oilers! We even got to practice with Oilers alumnus Jason Chimera( over 1100 games in the NHL) and Mark Fistric. The session ended with us asking them about the NHL. The one thing we learned that is funny is all these players line up before every road trip and get little envelopes with their names on them. And in these envelopes there is money in them for meals while on the road. Alex Ovechkin was always first in line and asking for his.
Once we left the ice we had a nutrition session with the Oiler’s executive chef followed by lunch and a visit with James Neal. He was pretty awesome to us and answered all of our questions and even posed for photos with everyone.
After lunch we were given a tour of Roger’s Place and had a Q&A with the Oiler’s Video Coach, Jeremy Coupal, and TV Host, Kate Pettersen, who showed us behind the scenes action and told many stories of their experiences with the Edmonton Oilers.
Then onto our Dryland Training Session with Melissa Lowe, the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Edmonton Oilers. We worked hard, learned new warm up exercises and had a lot of fun.
We moved onto a Media Training Session with the Manager of Hockey Operations Communications, Shawn May. He explained what we should and should not do on social media and the repercussions of reckless behaviour.
We had an early nutritious supper so that we could prepare for the Fantasy Draft and jersey distribution.
The Roger’s Place Official Announcer Al Stafford called out our names and presented our jerseys, replicating the NHL draft. It. Was. Awesome.
Our team was split in half and combined with the Seera Icemen. We were introduced on the ice exactly like an NHL game and had a ton of fun skating hard, laughing at our teammates and creating unforgettable memories of playing a game at Roger’s Place.
We were also given Skybox AA seats for the Oilers vs. St. Louis Blues on January 31. We felt incredibly fortunate to have some of the best seats in the arena and by far the most amazing food you could imagine. The desserts provided between the 2nd and 3rd period were unforgettable! The Oiler’s did not let us down and played hard for the win.
We could not have won the competition without all the hard work from the coaches and parents and teammates. They were patient, encouraging and relentless in taking videos and editing them for the contest. It was the perfect example of how to keep trying and never give up. We would not have had this experience if it was not for all of everyone's hard work and dedication. We worked hard as a team and made unforgettable memories. It was an experience of a lifetime and I am very grateful to have spent the day with my coaches and teammates.