Tag Archives: Calgary

Returning for season two with the Calgary Inferno

Last year,  I embarked on new and unfamiliar territory when I put on a headset to be the play-by-play voice of the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

Calgary Inferno - 2016/2017 season

WinSport – Arena A of the Markin MacPhail Centre during warm-up ahead of an Inferno game. (Sandra Prusina)

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to call hockey games. It seemed like a pipe dream though. Everyone in Canada wanted to do hockey play-by-play and combine that with being a woman, reality set in that it would never happen.

I’ve been in broadcasting and journalism for nearly a decade and while I greatly enjoy my radio career and the travels I’ve had to three Olympics, the yearning for being the voice of a hockey team was always in the back of my mind. It was an honour to receive a message from the CWHL asking if I wanted to be involved with the Inferno.

I studied the players and the teams, but that wasn’t enough preparation for the task at hand. Even though hockey is a fast game, I had to learn that trying to speak all the time wasn’t doing me or the viewers any favours. Many years ago, a journalism instructor taught me that when communicating, make what you say poignant and make it count. It took me awhile to adapt that to my play-by-play style. Oh, and if I had a nickel for every time I said “the ice” or “the zone” in my first few broadcasts, I’d be a rich girl.

I’ll also be the first to admit that I struggled with some name pronunciations. In particular, I feel bad for then-rookie Iya Gavrilova, whose last name I must’ve said differently each time. Her family watching back home in Russia likely cringed.

It took me the whole season to figure out what was easiest for me in terms of numbers and names. While I knew the Calgary players, I had to quickly adapt to the other teams. Holding my roster sheet during calling the game was a guide, almost a safety blanket, and I was okay with that. It made me feel comfortable.

While I did receive mostly positive feedback at season’s end, I wondered what was in the cards for the future. There were on-air blunders, many of which I recall vividly. Would the Inferno call me back? How did the CWHL feel? The summer rolled on and I came to the realization that this was likely going to be a ‘one and done’ situation. Even if it was, I was grateful to live out a dream I had since I was a little girl: I was the voice of a professional hockey team playing out of an incredible facility at WinSport’s Markin McPhail Centre – home of Hockey Canada.

It was a thrill last week to receive an email from the new general manager of the Inferno asking if I wanted to come back for the 2017-2018 season. With it being an Olympic year, there will be a lot to learn and I’m ready to embrace that challenge.

Calgary Inferno - 2016/2017 season

My first season as the voice of the Calgary Inferno of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League. (Sandra Prusina)

 

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under Calgary, Hockey, Sandra

Professional women’s soccer on the horizon in Calgary

Foothills WFC first practice - April 16th 2015

Foothills WFC first practice – April 16th 2015

A year ago, I never thought a professional women’s soccer team in our city would be possible. I chalked it up to lack of interest and had basically resigned to the fact that it was just a pipe dream. I looked at other North American cities with envy. Why is a city like Calgary, with a population of a 1.2 million plus and a massive number of registered players, struggling with that next step of soccer?

Things have now changed.

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know the driving forces behind Calgary Foothills SC. The group is working hard to embark on the goal of bringing professional women’s soccer to Calgary. They are fielding a squad this summer for an exhibition season to prepare for a debut in the W-League for 2016.

The roster consists of players from the ages of 16 to 30. Some have represented Canada at U-17 and U-20 Women’s World Cups, while others have completed storied college careers south of the border.

The skill set is nothing short of impressive. I had the opportunity to observe their first practice session and was floored at the talent. It’s inspiring to see the amount of passion going into this project by the players, coaching staff and management. When I left that evening, I realized something special was on the horizon.

It’s going to be an exciting ride.

Follow Foothills WFC on Twitter for the latest on their exhibition season.

2 Comments

Filed under Calgary, Canada, Soccer

Gallery: Calgary Foothills U23 v Vancouver Whitecaps U23

What an afternoon for soccer in Calgary. The weather was stunning for the friendly match, which saw over 1,200 pack Encana Field at Shouldice Park. It was an absolute pleasure being behind the lens and taking in the match from this perspective. Congrats to Foothills on their 2:1 victory. The club is working toward the goal of bringing back professional ball to this soccer-starved city.

Leave a comment

June 8, 2014 · 7:16 pm

Calgary hosting Ghana ahead of U-20 Women’s World Cup

Amazing things are happening in Calgary when it comes to the world of soccer. Foothills FC is on the cusp of bringing back professional men’s ball with the inaugural season of their U-23 PDL squad.

International Friendly Poster 3On the women’s side, Calgary West Soccer Club will be hosting the U-20 Ghana national team for a number of weeks in June and July. Ghana will be taking part in this summer’s U-20 Women’s World Cup in Canada and they find themselves in Group A alongside the Canadian team.

The international team will also be holding a soccer camp while they are in Calgary. The camps will be under the direction of current Ghana head coach Bashiru Hayford and Emmanuel Kwasi Afranie, former Ghana coach, who is currently part of the Ghana Football Association Juvenile Technical Committee. They’ll work along side Calgary West FC technical director Henry Haeusler. The Ghana national team players will lead the training sessions.

During their stay in Calgary, Ghana will also take part in a number of friendlies as they prepare for the U-20 Women’s World Cup in August. A Canada Day match will feature Ghana going head-to-head with the Callies Major squad from the AMSL. The Callies roster is made of players who have played on soccer scholarships across North America, including Ranee Premji, who won the NCAA Championship with the North Carolina Tar Heels in 2012.

2014_FIFA_U-20_Women's_World_Cup_logoThe Ghana squad will be in Calgary from June 29th to July 21st. They open the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Toronto on August 5th against Canada.

Short editorial-type comments: Calgary has this odd perception amongst some of the soccer ranks that the sport, particularly the women’s side, isn’t popular here. I have no idea where this originated because it simply isn’t true. A lot of great Canadian players have come out of Calgary including Erin McLeod, Taryn Swiatek and Christine Latham. There are many youngsters on the cusp of doing great things too, including recent U-17 Women’s World Cup standout Sarah Kinzner from Foothills SC.

People in this city care. They care a lot. As someone who has played from CMSA to CIS and now twilight years in CWSA, I can first hand tell you there’s tremendous passion and following for women’s soccer in Calgary. You see it every time a summer camp is held, during outdoor and indoor provincials or even when a national coaching conference is hosted here. It’s amazing to see what the Calgary West and Calgary Callies clubs are doing to bring high calibre women’s teams and players here. Kudos to them and everyone involved.

1 Comment

Filed under Calgary, Soccer

Celebrate ’88: 25 years later, but feels like yesterday

February 13th, 2013 marks the 25th anniversary of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games in my beautiful homecity of Calgary.

25 years. A quarter of a century. Wow. I was quite young when the world was welcomed by Calgary, but I’m reminded of the wonderful event on a daily basis. All I need to do is look west to see Canada Olympic Park. While I was going to university, I walked by the Olympic Oval on my way to class. When you go skating at Olympic Plaza downtown, you just need to look around to see constant reminders of those amazing two weeks.

One of the most memorable images of 1988 is the logo. It remains very unique, combining the city and country through the letter C and includes one of Canada’s most well known symbols, the maple leaf, and an outline of a snowflake.

The logo features a unique C design. There are five large and five small letters Cs to represent Calgary and Canada - all in the shape of a maple leaf and a snowflake.

The 1988 Olympic Winter Games are also unforgettable because of the emergence of pin collecting. People from all  over the world gathered at pin “hubs” across the city, trying to add to their collections through trades. The pin phenomenon is still mainstay at both the Summer and Winter Games.

The 1988 mascots, Hidy and Howdy, had a true Calgary flare. Not only were they polar bears, but they (of course!) also donned their cowboy gear to play hommage to the Stampede. It was tough not smile when I picked up this Hidy and Howdy pin at the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver. Hidy and Howdy pinSunIce jackets were worn by Olympic volunteers. From time to time, you see them make an appearance around the city and it makes you chuckle a little bit. The distinct 80s style and pastel colours are pretty hard to miss. I did a quick scour of eBay and if you’re interested in picking up one of these gems, it’s going to set you back anywhere from $80.00 to over $300.00.

How about this song? “Can You Feel It?” was penned by master Canadian composer David Foster and gives me goosebumps to this day. All you need to do is hear the first five seconds and you’ll be flooded with memories. The composition may have an 80s synth sound, but it’s so memorable, the piece is used during the Bellagio Hotel fountain show in Las Vegas.

There’s not enough space to mention all of the athletes and amazing moments from 1988. All I will say is The Battle of the Brians, Eddie the Eagle, and the Jamaican bobsled team. Personally, my favorite memory is Elizabeth Manley capturing silver in figure skating at the Saddledome. She had a delightful, up-tempo routine in a pink gown and became a true Calgarian when she popped on a white Stetson.

What do you remember? Celebrate 88!

Leave a comment

Filed under Calgary, Olympics

Sights from the FIS Freestyle World Cup in Calgary

During the winter months, nothing is better than a sunny Saturday afternoon in Calgary at the ski hill. The FIS Freestyle World Cup made one of its only two Canadian stops at Canada Olympic Park with hundreds of fans on hand to get a preview of the athletes before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games. There was plenty of Canadian content including 2010 Olympic hero and gold medalist Alexandre Bilodeau, Mikael Kingsbury, Simon Pouliot-Cavanagh, Marc-Antoine Gagnon, Philippe Marquis and Pascal-Olivier Gagne.

Thanks to the great folks at Canada Olympic Park and WinSport Canada for putting on a tremendous, world-class event. The facility continues to attract the best competitors from around the globe.

3 Comments

January 26, 2013 · 2:46 pm

Dear NHL, Calgary misses you.

About two weeks ago, I had an “I don’t care” attitude about the NHL lockout. I’d get started on lengthy tangents about how everyone was greedy and if they ever came back it would be too soon. I lied. It was just a way of masking disappointment.

It’s now early October and although the two sides are talking, there’s no end of the lockout in sight.

Calgary’s always a special place this time of year: the leaves have changed color, people are putting on their winter tires and everyone’s waiting to see what the new hockey season will bring the Flames. Sure, the team’s been frustrating to watch over the last three playoff-less years, but that doesn’t take away how much love Calgary has for its team.

A fall without Flames hockey is just weird. Think back to the previous lockout. The team had such momentum after a heartbreaker in the 2004 Stanley Cup Finals versus Tampa Bay. So many things can be said about that series and while there’s no point rehashing it, the team was expected to have a special aura going into the fall. It never happened because the lockout happened. The team lost a year of players in their prime including Jarome Iginla, who was playing some of the best hockey of his career. It was like Calgary’s improbable and magical run was for not. Okay, maybe not nothing, but the team had a hard time recovering from that lost year, never advancing past the first round of the playoffs since 2004.

We are now in the fall of 2012 and the Scotiabank Saddledome feels so empty without the Flames. The team was ready to embark on a season of change thanks to new coach Bob Hartley, a number of new faces including Roman Cervenka, Jiri Hudler and Dennis Wideman, and perhaps a full season of Sven Baertschi. Flames fans were ready to pack the stands during training camp to see what the new additions looked like. Who would have chemistry with whom? What line combinations would Hartley try? How would Martin Gelinas adapt behind the bench? Instead, the players are dispersed around the world. Some of them are playing in Europe, while others are still training here in Calgary in hopes the lockout will end soon.

With all that said, do you want to know what frightens me most? Iginla may have played his last game wearing the Flaming C. Let’s say the lockout does go the full season, that means the captain’s final contract year is a wash out. Come July 1st 2013, also Iginla’s birthday, he’ll be able to sign wherever he wants. Scary isn’t it? Miikka Kiprusoff is reaching the end of his contract. Who’s to say he’ll want to play in North America for the final year of his deal? The next time the Calgary Flames actually suit up, the team could look very different. I’m not sure fans in this city are prepared for a lineup without those two, but it could be a reality.

The two sides meet against Wednesday. Let’s hope there’s progress because this lockout could really hurt the Calgary Flames, in more ways than one.

Leave a comment

Filed under Calgary, Hockey