Game day

Ath­letes ready to open play at Canada Games in Win­nipeg

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - SPORTS - BY JA­SON MALLOY Ja­son Malloy ja­son.malloy@the­guardian.pe.ca www.Twit­ter.com/Sport­sGuardian

Emily Brothers has spent count­less hours on di­a­monds across Prince Ed­ward Is­land pre­par­ing for today.

Pho­tos For more on the P.E.I. ath­letes at the Canada Games, see B12

The 18-year-old Cardi­gan na­tive and her Team P.E.I. softball team­mates open play at the Canada Games with a pair of con­tests as Week 2 com­pe­ti­tion be­gins.

“This has been my dream for a long time and it’s fi­nally here,’’ she said Sun­day.

“We’ve all put so much time and ef­fort in and so has the coaches and all of the sup­port staff and par­ents. We’re re­ally ex­cited. Two big games to­mor­row, it would be awe­some to start off with a cou­ple of wins.”

P.E.I. opens play at 1 p.m. At­lantic against Saskatchewan be­fore meet­ing the host Man­i­toba squad at 5 p.m. The com­pe­ti­tion takes place in Head­in­g­ley, Man., about 30 min­utes from the ath­letes’ vil­lage in Win­nipeg.

Katie Rayner was 16 years old when she first joined a pro­vin­cial softball team.

“Back then I knew my goal was to play (at the) Canada Games,’’ she said, not­ing a sense of sat­is­fac­tion to be able to ac­com­plish that first goal of be­ing in Win­nipeg.

“It feels great. There’s no bet­ter feel­ing.”

The team left Char­lot­te­town on Satur­day af­ter­noon and had time to check out a bit of the vil­lage dur­ing the evening while get­ting set­tled in.

“The flight here flew by,’’ said Rayner, a 20-year-old Kil­dare na­tive.

“It was great to see the at­mos­phere, to see (peo­ple from) all of the dif­fer­ent prov­inces and ev­ery­one walk­ing around. It’s go­ing to be a great week.”

The team had its first prac­tice on Sun­day morn­ing and it ramped up the en­ergy for the squad.

“Once we ac­tu­ally got to see the field, we all re­ally clicked in that we were here and we all

got more pumped up,’’ Brothers said.

The team has spent many hours on the field, in the gym train­ing, fundrais­ing and team bond­ing.

The Jeff Ellsworth/Ash­ley Praught-coached squad has also been busy trav­el­ling to tour­na­ments in Eastern Canada to pre­pare for this week.

“I think we’re all ready,’’ Rayner said. “We’ve all been look­ing for­ward to it for so long, we all trained hard and we’re ready.”

The Games are about com­pe­ti­tion, but also about spend­ing time with friends and meet­ing new peo­ple.

“We’re all here to have fun,’’ Brothers said. “We all want to win, but it is im­por­tant to make friends and make memories that will last a life­time.”

JA­SON MALLOY/THE GUARDIAN

Emily Brothers, left, and Katie Rayner and their Team P.E.I. softball team­mates are ready to play their first game today at the Canada Games in Head­in­g­ley, Man.

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