A former Prince Rupert athlete has translated her humble beginnings into the start of a successful hockey career.
Brianna Bryant-Nelson, 17, recently found out she made Team BC for the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships in Cowichan, starting this week. This marks the third time she has made the team, which finished fourth last year and sixth in 2015.
“It was definitely my second efforts and how I didn’t give up on the play and I would always try. It’s your second efforts, I think, that mean the most,” said Bryant-Nelson, who is of Tsimshian, Gitxsan and Cree descent.
Last year, she received a letter from Premier Christy Clark, congratulating her for making the team.
Although she lived in Prince Rupert as a child — and played for the Prince Rupert Minor Hockey Association’s Seawolves through Novice and halfway through Atom — she moved to pursue her hockey dreams.
Nowadays, she is in Grade 12 at Athol Murray College of Notre Dame, a private Catholic boarding school in Wilcox, Saskatchewan which she is attending on a full scholarship. The school scouted her for her hockey skills, and she now plays for the Notre Dame Hounds in the Saskatchewan Female Midget AAA Hockey League. Bryant-Nelson said the school has made her more independent and she’s so happy she decided to go there.
“It’s life-changing. I love it there. Notre Dame has had a really huge impact on my life. With school and hockey, I become wiser and more of a better player and student,” Bryant-Nelson said.
Last week, she attended a college showcase in Fort Myers, Florida where all the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division 1 teams come to scout potential future players.
“It’s really good exposure just to get your name out there for NCAA. I’m graduating so I’m hoping to pursue hockey and go to college and university at the same time,” she said.
Ideally, the left wing hockey player hopes to get the chance to commit to the University of Minnesota, because of their good hockey program, but she also liked what she heard when she spoke with Harvard University representatives last week about their criminology program, which is what she hopes to get into. As she mentioned more than once, “school comes before hockey.”
Making an NCAA team is a goal of hers, as well as to show younger players not to be defined by their small beginnings.
“Even though you come from a small place where’s there’s physical attributes around you that are negative, you can still make places and still go somewhere in life,” Bryant-Nelson said.
Although she no longer lives in Prince Rupert, she is often back on the North Coast to visit family and like many Rupertities before her who have left the city for bigger and better things, the pride of being from Prince Rupert goes with her wherever she goes.