Brim Stone’s alarm goes off at 7am and I stumble over to the hotel coffee maker to make hot water for my morning tea. I gather up my almost-dry gear and remember to retrieve my uniform from where it has been “airing” in the closet. I pull on my tights, sports bra and ankle booties and then cover it all up with my sweats and hoodie – not forgetting my team toque! I have just enough time to force down some oatmeal with banana and protein powder before running down to the lobby and getting on the crowded shuttle bus to the venue.
We creep our way through the Toronto rush hour traffic, swapping stories with skaters from across the globe and trying not to show the nerves that are seeping into our veins. The line up is already around the block by the time we pull up and I feel very important as I get escorted past the crowd and into the Bunker. My team is in our change room waiting for our morning debrief, a sea of red hoodies with steaming cups of coffee in hand.
Our coaches lay out the plan for the day: timelines of where to be when, the rosters for the upcoming games, which uniform we will be wearing and updates from the organisers. Then its time for goal setting – we stand in a tight circle and each person says something they thought the team did well in the last game and something we can improve on. At the end we decide on 2-3 specific things to focus on for our next game. We don’t criticize each other, we support our team mates and we strive to be better as a group. We are a team, united by our goals.
We have an hour before our on-track warm up so it’s time to wake up those muscles. We jog out of the change room and head off into the depths of the Bunker. Forwards, backwards, grapevine, high knees, butt kicks, vertical jumps, sideways shuffle – Smack Daddy’s routine starts to clear out the fog of sleep. Fifteen minutes of the Name Game kickstarts the brain and the avoidance instincts before bringing it back down to a dynamic stretch. Beretta Lynch leads us through a series of stretches which get us all feeling limber and ready for the day ahead.
We gear up. The sweat drying on our bodies making it chill by the open venue door. I share a banana with Bone Machine and take a bite of a Cliff bar before helping Iron Wench to fill her bottle with Gatorade.
We are ready.
Five years of skating, bootcamps, plyometrics, insanity workouts, nutrition programs, strategy discussions, game viewings, bruises, sprains, 7am practices, midnight practices, games won, games lost, mistakes made and winning points scored in the final seconds.
I am ready.
We emerge from the quiet solitude into the heat and noise of the main arena. Skating onto the floor I am deafened by the roar from the home crowd and dazzled by the bright lights and waving banners.
We are here to show our country what training and team work can achieve.
We are here to show the world that no matter what you throw at us we will never give up.
We are here to get the job done.
We are Team Canada. BEAVER FEVER!