Special to the Barrhaven Independent
For a kid growing up in Barrhaven, winning a gold medal for Canada would be the thrill of a lifetime.
Sara Hyami got to win a gold medal at the 2022 World Ringette Championships in Finland in November. And even though it wasn’t in a Team Canada jersey, it was still an incredible experience.
Hyami, a 16-year-old Grade 12 student at Longfields Davidson Heights Secondary School, took a couple weeks off last month to play for the United States women’s team at the world ringette championships. She qualified to play for the U.S. because her mom is from Virginia Beach, Virginia.
“Three years ago, there was a local player who went and played for the United States, and her mom talked to my mom about how I would be eligible to play for the US team,” Hyami said. “We found out about the tryouts in Michigan and there was also a tournament in Ottawa. The US is trying to rebuild their program and they are recruiting a lot of Canadian player who have US eligibility to go down and play for them. It’s exciting to be a part of it.”
Hyami thought about what it would be like to put a USA jersey on and play against Canada, but that scenario never played out. Canada and Finland are the two elite teams in world ringette, and they were alone as the only two teams in the tournament’s top tier. The United States was in the second tier, and they won gold. Hyami won an award as the Game MVP in the Americans’ win over Czechia.
“It was really exciting to go somewhere with your team and visit another country and experience everything,” she said. “Finland is a beautiful country. I loved how they had pastries at breakfast and the ice coffee was incredible.”
Hyami has been playing ringette in the Nepean Ravens program since she was six years old. She currently plays for the Ravens U-19 AAA ringette team. Playing in the world women’s championships was big jump for her.
“It was a great experience to play ringette at that level and speed,” she said. “I know that I improved a lot as a player because of the experience.”
A generation ago, there were very few opportunities for girls and women to play hockey. Ringette was an alternative. Now, with girls and women’s hockey programs growing, ringette has taken a bit of a back seat.
“I never played hockey, but a lot of players play both hockey and ringette,” Hyami said. “In the US especially, a lot of their ringette players are hockey players as well. They are different games. Ringette is faster, and you can focus on speed because there is no stickhandling.”
While winning gold was a dream come true for Hyami, it was back to reality as soon as she returned to Barrhaven.
“I missed two weeks of school, so I spent the first three days back doing nothing but school work,” she said. “It took a while to get caught up.”
Hyami is hoping to go to Carleton University next year and will continue playing for the Nepean U19 AAA team. She is also playing for Ringette Ontario in the Ontario Games. She is also looking for another opportunity to play for the United States.
“I am part of the team now, and I have made some great friends,” she said. “We are all talking about playing together again. It felt a little bit different to play for the US at the very beginning, but that feeling went away very quickly once the games started. We are a team, and I am all in.”