About this time, most hockey players are packing away their skates and making plans for some sun and surf over Spring Break. Two young girls from central Indiana are packing up their skates as well... but they'll need them where they are going. That's because Emma Pickering (Cleveland Lady Barons 14U AAA Tier 1) and Malaya Anaba (Indy Junior Fuel 12U AA) are headed overseas to take part in the World Selects Invitational tournament.
The World Selects Invitational Super AAA events were created to provide tournaments where each Spring, the world's top hockey clubs and players could meet for an elite-level hockey competition and inter-cultural experience with the top organizations from around the globe. Teams participating in a World Selects Invitational event are carefully screened to ensure that their level of play will allow them to compete at the highest levels and against the world's best players.
“It's an exciting stage for these elite athletes to show their talents,” said Director of Brand Ventures for LEGACY Global Sports, Brad Robins. “We look forward to seeing the players learn more both on and off the ice at WSI so they and their families can prepare for the next step in their hockey careers.”
Emma, an 8th grader at Fishers Junior High School, started off as a figure skater but was eventually drawn to the speed and skill of hockey. Growing up, she played with the boys as there was a lack of girls only teams in the area. Eventually she landed a spot with the Cleveland Lady Barons, and is now in her second season with the club. She still practices with the boys at home, then joins her teammates in whatever city they are playing game in.
Emma was selected to play in the World Selects Invitational in Bordeaux, France and San Sebastian, Spain this upcoming April, and will play for the North American Selects team which consists of top 15U players from the US and Canada.
Malaya is a 7th grader at Fall Creek Junior High School and will be playing with the MidWest Selects team which will be participating in the World Selects Invitational in Geneva, Switzerland and Chamonix, France. The MidWest Selects team is comprised of the top 2006 birth-year players from Chicago, British Columbia, Nebraska, Wisconsin and Michigan.
Malaya got her first taste of hockey during a Try Hockey For Free event, which are hosted once or twice each year across the country. She was hooked the moment she hit the ice. Since that time, she has played with boys teams in Fishers until finally getting a chance to play with just girls on the Cleveland Lady Barons 12U tournament team.
The pair are very excited about this opportunity to travel overseas and play with and against top players from all over the world. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to take their hockey talents to the next level and provide cultural exchanges with peers from all over the world is something that transcends the game. "We are also looking forward to participating in a fun game where the teams will be scrambled up," says Emma. "We may not speak the same language as our linemate that game, but we all speak Hockey!"
If you think playing for a team based in another state is a challenge, just imagine the logistics involved playing on another continent! Not to mention the cost.
With such a tight-knit hockey community here in Indiana, the girls are hoping that others will help them raise the funds needed to make the trip. They have launched a GoFundMe campaign to help cover the expenses involved, and are hosting some other fundraisers as well, such as an upcoming Dine To Donate event at the Chick-Fil-A in Fishers (Saxony & I-69) on March 14th from 6-8pm.
We just know that no matter what happens on the ice, these two outstanding young ladies will leave the rest of the world with a very positive impression of the Hoosier State.