Wednesday, February 16, 2011 @ 8:06am
February 16, 2011
GN.005- By Kristen Lipscombe
Long, platinum blond hair hanging out of the back of a helmet. Quick, dart-like speed and unrelenting work ethic on skates. A distinctive giggle and tendency to mumble while talking.
The dream of representing Canada on the ice at the Olympic Winter Games.
These special traits describe not one, but two aspiring National Women's Team players. Meet the Bram sisters. What makes these two Ste. Anne, Man., siblings particularly unique, though, is that both Bailey, 20, and Shelby, 17, have already taken major strides toward making their ultimate dream come true.
Both have already had the honour of wearing the Team Canada jersey, at the same time, albeit at different international tournaments.
In early January, Bailey won a gold medal with Canada's National Women's Under-22 Team at the 2011 MLP Cup in Kreuzlingen, Switzerland, and Shelby won a silver medal with Canada's National Women's Under-18 Team at the 2011 IIHF World Women's Under-18 Championship in Stockholm, Sweden.
Landing a spot on the rosters for the National Women's Under-18 and Under-22 teams are important steps in Hockey Canada's Program of Excellence – steps neither Bram sister takes for granted.
"Awesome!" is how both Brams describe the feeling of representing their country on the ice.
"When Bailey first made the team, I knew it was possible," Shelby said of her sister being named to the under-18 team for the 2008 IIHF World Women's Under-18 Championship in Calgary, Alta. "Just her being there makes me want to follow in her footsteps."
Three years later, it was finally Shelby's turn to crack the under-18 roster for the world championship in Sweden.
"I'm really proud of her," Bailey wrote in an email from Switzerland. "I'm just trying to give her any advice I can, and tell her to enjoy it all!"
While mom and dad couldn't make it overseas – with six other siblings their household is especially busy during hockey season – there's no doubt the sport is in the Bram blood.
"Our whole family played, and we have a lot of kids," Shelby said with a laugh, just after a practice in Stockholm. "We usually have an outdoor rink in our yard. Our parents would let us walk around our house (wearing) skates – we were born to play hockey!"
"I would play with my brothers and they wouldn't pass to me, so I would go inside crying," Bailey added. "My parents would just laugh and say ‘too bad, if you want the puck, go get it from them!,' so at a young age I definitely developed a great work ethic.' "
Both agree their parents have always encouraged them, as Shelby says, "to never give up," and as Bailey says, "to be the best we could be."
Much of their success is also found in the strength of their unique bond.
"When we're working out, we definitely... compete with each other, but it's all to motivate each other," Bailey said. "She's my best friend, so I'm always... hoping she'll do great."
Not only are they sisters and best friends, but soon they will become teammates.
Shelby is off to Mercyhurst College in Erie, Penn., this fall, where she'll join Bailey on the NCAA Division 1 Lakers, a team that also features high-profile national program players such as 2010 Olympic Winter Games gold medallist Meghan Agosta and 2010 4 Nations Cup gold medallist Vicki Bendus.
From chasing their brothers outdoors to competing with some of the best in the world, there's no doubt Bailey and Shelby will continue to push each other toward that shared ultimate dream of theirs.
And not surprisingly, both agree that going for Olympic gold, possibly together, would be, well, "awesome!"
Who was Hockey Manitoba's top team of 2012-13?
Number of votes: 69