Grade 8 student, Hailey King from Ecole Airdrie Middle School may only be 14 years old, but she is already making her name known in the para ice hockey (sledge/ sled hockey) arena in Canada. King was recently named to the Women’s National Para Hockey Team. She is the youngest member of the team. 

King who had participated in the 2023 National Selection Camp for the Canadian Women’s Para Hockey Team in Montreal in late February, admitted she was quite nervous leading up to the decision, but once she found out, she was overjoyed. Having played the sport since she was 10 years old, King said there is much to love about sledge hockey, but the sense of community and the sense of belonging is perhaps one of her favourite parts.

Airdronian Hailey King is the youngest girl on the National Women's Para hockey team. (Photo provided by Maureen Feenstra) Airdronian Hailey King is the youngest girl on the National Women's Para hockey team. (Photo provided by Maureen Feenstra) 

"My favourite thing about sledge [hockey] is getting to know people and having fun," King said. "I'm in an environment of people that have very similar challenges that I have and I love that the environment is really accepting. We all share quite a lot of common interests."

Though King was born with a muscular disorder, which has affected both her lower legs, she said that sledge hockey has given her the ability to move with fierce speed and agility.

"My favourite feeling is getting on the sled, going really fast and feeling the wind rushing through your face. I love that feeling," she said. "And then there's another move; when slide you can do a little 360. You just go really fast and turn and you just keep your momentum forward."

With all of King's moves and her enthusiasm, the sky is the limit for this young athlete. She and her team will now be preparing for the Ottawa Invitational Sledge Hockey Tournament which will be held in Ontario next month from April 12 - 16. 

"This will be my first time playing on an all-women's team, so I'm really excited," King said. 

But King isn't the only one who is excited to hit the ice. Her mother, Maureen Feenstra is just as excited as her daughter, if not more.

"My husband and I, we already booked a flight to watch her anytime she plays with the women's team, we're going to be there," Feenstra said. " I'm going to have a Canada toque on and just cheer her on."

Apart from her excitement, King is also encouraged to see that those who participate in the sport are from all walks of life and all ages.

"[There are] multiple different age groups and different skills and you can join whenever you want. I just know someone who just started and they are 27," she said. "I found out about sledge hockey when I went to an adaptive sports camp. We tried about 20-25 adaptive sports."

It's fair to say that King has definitely found her passion, though she added that it's not just sledge hockey that she loves. She is quite the artist outside the rink and enjoys painting and sketching. 

Two other Albertans are also on the national team: Alicia Souveny from Red Deer and Alanna Mah from Edmonton. 

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