If ever there was a good thing about the pandemic it was that it gave Emma Elders a chance to do some research on Canadian university hockey programs and medical schools.
The 18-year-old Coldstream resident who plays as a forward for the Rink Hockey Academy Kelowna Female U18 Prep team will further her education and her hockey career out east in 2022-23, committing to the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.
“With COVID cancelling our games last year, I stayed in and started doing some research,” said Elders.
The Varsity Blues are currently the No. 1 ranked women’s hockey team in Canada U-SPORTS while the university’s medical school is ranked 14th in the world. Elders plans to study the life science program as an undergraduate and to specialize in neuroscience at graduate school.
Elders got some help hooking up with the U of T from her head coach, Kris Hogg, and skills coach Glen Carnegie through their connections with the Blues.
“The Toronto coach talked to me, asked if I was interested in playing in Toronto,” said Elders, who became convinced the Varsity Blues and the school were for her on a pre-Christmas, pre-travel advisory trip to the campus.
“It’s definitely a good fit for me. I stayed with some girls who will be my teammates and got a few crazy stories.”
Elders is in her second season with RHA Kelowna. In 14 games this season she has seven goals and five assists. She comes by her goal-scoring abilities naturally.
Her father is two-time Vernon Lakers Centennial Cup winner Jason Elders, who deposited 90 regular-season goals in two seasons with the B.C. Hockey League club in 1989-90 and 1990-91, securing a scholarship to the University of Denver.
“I started playing when I was 10 and you can say I still love playing hockey,” said Elders, a big fan of the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins and its superstar captain, Sidney Crosby. “My mom (Nell) and dad are my biggest supporters. They’ve helped me every step along the way. Every decision I’ve made, they’ve said, ‘Go for it.’”
Elders is the seventh player from the RHA U18 Prep squad to secure a post-secondary scholarship, and the first to commit to a Canadian school.
Teammates Brooke Disher, Jade Iginla, Mia Kenmore, Kayla Kutes, Sophie McKinley and Sara Swiderski have all earned NCAA scholarships.