Sackville’s Abby Beale will be attending Rothesay Netherwood School in Saint John, where hockey and academics are both at the forefront. PHOTO SUBMITTED
She has established some lofty and laudable goals for herself and in order to have the best opportunity to hone her skills and help her attain her dreams, 15-year-old Abby Beale will spend the next academic year at Rothesay Netherwood School, where academics and hockey are front and centre of all activities.
Abby takes a marvelous resume to the private institution located in the suburbs of Saint John. Last season, entering Grade 9 and Tantramar Regional High School for the first time, she led the lady Titans in all aspects of the game. For her solid work she was named rookie-of-the-year and the team MVP, while putting up the top numbers on the scoreboard.
But that outstanding performance simply put the icing on the cake as she had proven time and again she was among the best female players in the province while quite often playing on teams beside some bigger and stronger boys in otherwise all-male competition.
Asked her primary reason for leaving her home town and the opportunity to lead her Titans she admitted some regrets but pointed out if she is to be serious about improving her overall game then she had to look for a school where her talents and skills might be best developed.
Rothesay Netherwood, especially since the two schools joined, has become a powerhouse in the school hockey world. The school’s teams – the Nighthawks – compete in the Canadian Independent Schools championships, the Atlantic Conference of Independent Schools, the NB Interscholastic Athletic Association and also in middle school leagues.
The girls play in the North American Prep Hockey Association. This is a teen league, which includes prep schools from both the US and Canada.
Overall, the school’s hockey program focuses on player development and team play during practice.
Abby says the Nighthawks are on the ice five times a week while usually involved in tournaments every weekend. Actually, she expects to be in competition while the local agricultural field day is taking place here in Sackville.
Academics play a key role in individual development and students are expected to carry top marks. The school, in many ways, can be compared to a military operation. There are times set aside for study, chapel and meals and all must wear the school uniform. Strict rules on lights out and times for breakfast are enforced along with occasions when students may leave the campus.
Abby’s father, Brett, says he and the family visited a number of such schools across eastern Canada but with Abby having the final voice they unanimously selected RNS for the coming year. Outstanding academic-athletes like Abby, who carries an 85 average, are heavily recruited.
Being away from home for the first time – at least for an extended period – may present some “withdrawal symptoms” but Abby feels she will be kept far too busy. However, she admits she is going to miss her family, especially brother Brock. She says her parents have been totally supportive of her decisions and have offered unconditional support as she has honed her skills through the minor ranks mostly at the AAA levels in Moncton.
The 5’7” attractive athlete has played on a number of championship team, beginning with the local atoms as they swept to the SEDMA championship. She was a key member of that team as Ethan Crossman established a new scoring record for the event. She got her first taste of ice skating in the old Allison Gardens and has never looked back as speed and strength are two of her main assets.
Since that first victory Abby has played AAA pee wee in Moncton, moving up through bantam and also competed at AA with boys last season in addition to leading the Titans.
Even though she is still 15, it’s expected Abby will be a member of the provincial U-18 team that will perform in the Canada Games.
Brett says RNS offers a great program, both athletically and academically, and features some top coaches with two specifically working with the girls.
So what are some of Abby’s long-term goals?
Actually, there are two main ones. First she would like to improve her game to the point where she would be offered a full hockey scholarship to a Division 1 NCAA school and, second, would be to become a productive member of Canada’s nation women’s hockey team.
In order to reach those lofty ambitions it has taken the support of Brett and her mother Andrea as well as all the fine coaches she has had over the past 10 years to make them even possible.
Certainly her friends and the entire Sackville community will be following her progress up the hockey ranks and will be pulling for her to go all the way.