When Missy McDonnell first found out she had been selected to play for Team BC at the upcoming National Aboriginal Hockey Championships, she admitted she thought there had been a mistake.

The announcement came at the end of a two-day tryout in Kamloops in early April, which featured some of the top indigenous girls hockey players in the province. The team consists of players from bantam and midget, so at 14-years-old, McDonnell found herself among the younger players in attendance.

“I just went for the experience,” said McDonnell. “I didn’t think I was going to make it.”

But the steady play of the stay-at-home defencemen caught the attention of the Team BC staff. After hours of listening to other names be called for cuts, McDonnell realized she had made the team.

“The last people that were left, they just came in and said congratulations,” said McDonnell. “I thought like, ‘Did they forget to call my name or something?’”

But while the Grade 9 Merritt Secondary School student remains humble, she is no stranger to high performance hockey. A member of the Kamloops Jr. Blazers tier one bantam team, McDonnell has made select U14 and U16 teams in the past.

But to be playing alongside girls who are three years older is a new experience. The Merrittonian is one of four born-in-2003 players named to Team BC (only one athlete, a forward from Prince George, was born in 2004).

Competing in the National Aboriginal Hockey Championships and travelling to Membertou, N.S., will also be new experiences for the 14-year-old.

The tournament is slated to begin on May 6, but teams will be in town for May 5, for a final tune-up ahead of the start of competition.

Team BC will open the tournament with a match against New Brunswick in the preliminary round, which continues until May 11.

Having claimed bronze in the 2017 championships, Team BC aims to claim gold at this year’s tournament. But for McDonnell, the goal is to soak up experience and make the most of the opportunity to play alongside some of the most talented indigenous players in the country.

“They’re really good,” she said.