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Photo courtesy Paul Chan
Photo courtesy Paul Chan
Mallaig School student Baylee Jeffery plays in a game of handball in Iceland, in early January.
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Handball athletes experience Iceland with Team Alberta

Jan 14, 2014 11:45 am | Janice Huser

A recent trip to Iceland has proven to be an exciting and unique experience for three local high school athletes from Mallaig.

Baylee Jeffery, Haley Ozga and Seleena Hebert have been making regular trips between home and Edmonton to play handball with the U16 Team Alberta developmental team for the 2013 season. A trip to Iceland in late December helped further develop their skills, and brought the team’s season to a close.

Since playing their first season of handball with the Mallaig Stingers in early 2013, then making the provincial team in May of 2013, Jeffery and Ozga admit that although the experience has been a bit overwhelming, they’ve learnt a lot about the sport, and are now looking forward to a second school season.

“There’s definitely been a lot of improvement,” says Jeffery, when speaking of her trip to Iceland. Ozga and Jeffery agree that playing handball at the provincial level was an entirely different experience compared to playing the sport at a high school level.

“You have to improve to do good,” says Ozga of playing with Team Alberta.

Jeffery says that having the opportunity to travel to Iceland, and also to Denmark this past summer, has pushed her to be a better athlete after seeing the competition that exists in other countries.

The trip to Iceland itself offered the girls some unique cultural experiences, along with pushing them as athletes. The way people dress was different, and watching the Icelanders celebrate the holidays was also a fun experience for the girls.

“Who can say they went to Iceland when they were 16?” says Ozga.

With the 2013 season now coming to a close, Jeffery, Ozga and Hebert are looking forward to playing another season of handball with their high school team. That season will begin in February, giving the girls just over a month break from the sport.

“I’m looking forward to playing high school handball with a whole new perspective on the game,” says Hebert.

When asked if they plan to continue playing with Team Alberta, Ozga and Jeffery say they are taking things one day at a time right now, but if they do decide to continue playing they will move up to the elite team, where the goal will be more focused on winning, rather than development.

Hebert says she is looking forward to 2014 and continuing to play handball.

“Handball has opened doors and opportunities that athletes from small towns usually don't get to experience,” says Hebert, adding, “I am just very thankful for (Alberta Team Handball Federation) and our coaches . . . for giving as the chance of a life time.”

Overall, Jeffery and Ozga hope to see the sport continue to grow in Alberta and are grateful for the experiences they’ve had so far, and they credit their high school coaches Ian MacGillivray and Louise Jodoin for introducing them to the sport.


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