For 14-year-old Chloe Luke, playing hockey is nothing new — she joined her first team 11 years ago, having developed an immediate passion for the sport.
“I grew up in a very competitive family,” she said. “I play today for all the same reasons — the fast pace, mental strategy, getting goals, shutting down the other team’s strategies.
“And there’s nothing better than the smell of hockey in the morning.”
Luke should know — she’s been practicing early Thursday mornings at the John Bucyk Arena with her father and minor hockey coach, Chris Luke, leading up to joining the Kootenay zone team at the BC Winter Games, which start today in Mission.
She’ll play five games by the end of Saturday, putting all of her training — working out at the gym, running, swimming competitively and more — to good use. Her fitness was already tested at a three-day qualifier held in Nakusp last month, which allowed her to show evaluators her strengths.
“I’m fast, I know how to move the puck well, I’m strong, I’m a playmaker and have a really good shot,” said Luke, who has competed at the provincial level in the BC Cup championship.
She hopes those strong points will help her to eventually join a college team and represent Canada or the U.S. at a national level — but for now, she’s excited to demonstrate her skills at the Winter Games.
“I look forward to the competition and those girls that say, ‘Oh no. I have to battle against that girl again,’ ” she said.