It is shaping up to be another memorable year on the ice for Blackstock’s Kirsten Welsh, as she prepares for several new challenges in her hockey career.
The Grade 12 student at Port Perry H.S. will be heading to Prince George, B.C. later this week to compete with Team Ontario at the Canada Winter Games, which are being contested from Feb. 14 to 20.
She is also chasing a third consecutive provincial championship with the Whitby Junior Wolves, and a LOSSA Tier II title with the Port Perry H.S. Rebels.
As well, Welsh recently signed a Division 1 scholarship with Robert Morris University, and is set to suit up the Colonials this fall.
The NCAA scholarship is the realization of a long-time dream for the imposing 6-foot-tall defender, and she is excited for the impending move to the school, which is located just outside of Pittsburgh.
“I visited a bunch of schools. Northeastern, Cornell and Quinnipiac all had great things to offer, but the small classes, beautiful campus and team at Robert Morris made it a perfect fit for me,” Welsh told The Standard. “I’ll have a wide range of academic options, and right now, I’m leaning towards majoring in business or sports management.”
In addition, the Colonials will offer Welsh the opportunity to step into their line-up from the moment she steps onto campus, and she is eagerly anticipating testing herself against the tough competition of the American collegiate ranks, and displaying her trademark physicality, which was honed through several years of competition against boys. Before joining the Junior Wolves as a 15-year-old, Welsh competed in Major Bantam ‘AAA’ boys hockey with the Oshawa Minor Generals.
“Another great thing is that I’ll have the chance to step in and earn my spot,” added Welsh. “If you are stepping up your game, you’re going to play. The coaching staff liked that I’m an aggressive player that can play a rough and tough game,” Welsh explained.
Next week, Welsh will be looking to improve on a silver medal earned last year as part of Team Ontario as she takes to the ice at the Canada Winter Games, competing against the best young players from across the country.
“I’m super stoked about the Games this year, and we’re definitely out for a bit of revenge after losing in the Finals last year. With so many talented players in Ontario, it’s an honour to have made the team and I’m really looking forward to competing and representing Ontario again.”
When she returns from the west coast, Welsh will be looking to help take Whitby to an unprecedented third consecutive Alumni Cup as champions of the Provincial Women’s Hockey League.
“A third straight championship would be the perfect way to finish out my time in Whitby. I don’t think it’s ever been done before, and there are three of us that have been on the team for the past two years and it’d be a great way to finish our time playing together,” said Welsh.