The country's best ringette league is coming to Tillsonburg on Sunday, January 19.
"I'm definitely excited," said Tillsonburg's Taylor Campbell, a second-year forward on the National Ringette League's Cambridge Turbos, who are battling Montreal Mission for top spot in the 11-team Eastern Conference. "So they can see there is a future in ringette – the fastest sport on ice. People can can come to the game and see it, so yes, I am excited."
The Turbos, who drafted Campbell in the first round of the 2012 southern Ontario draft, will be facing cross-town rival Waterloo Wildfire at the Tillsonburg Kinsmen Memorial Arena on the 19th at 1 p.m.
"I think you'd be surprised how fast it is," said Campbell. "We play man-on... if they carry out the ring. Offensively, we like to set things up. We're more of a possession team and we set up our goals."
Ringette will definitely be in the spotlight at the Tillsonburg Community Centre that weekend, not just for the Sunday NRL game, but also for Tillsonburg Ringette's annual TwisterFest Tournament, Jan. 17-19, featuring local U8 to U14 action.
Admission to the NRL game is $8, Under-16 $4, and players wearing a jersey are free.
It will be Waterloo's second neutral site game of the season. In November the Wild hosted Calgary RATH in Mitchell, losing 7-3.
"I told them Tillsonburg is very small, but they're going to like the arena," Campbell smiled.
Home to six teams this year – U8, U10 Regional, U12 Regional, U12 Provincial, U14 Regional and U14 Provincial – the Tillsonburg ringette program continues to flourish and develop.
To reach the NRL, however, Campbell said the next step beyond A is AA, and that's where NRL starts to scout players.
"I would say, to get drafted to the NRL they would need to start playing AA to get scouted. I don't think NRL teams look at a lot of (A) players."
Size is not the major consideration, she said, but speed and strength are very important.
"There are small girls in the league," she noted.
NRL is not a professional league – players do not get paid. And for Campbell, a first-year student studying Therapeutic Recreation at Seneca College in King City, north of Toronto, there is considerable travel. She commutes to Cambridge for weekly practices and league games.
It will be Campbell's first time playing in her hometown since joining the NRL, last skating here when she was playing AA and regional AAA with occasional practices and training seminars in Tillsonburg. She is quick to admit her game has changed since joining the Turbos.
"It's definitely a jump from AA to NRL – it's a big change."
Campbell, with 47 points in 13 games, is still Top 10 in conference scoring. The 19-year-old plays on a line with Turbos' Jacqueline and Jennifer Gaudet, currently No. 2 and 3 in conference scoring.
"Probably the two best players I've ever played with," said Campbell.
"I'm definitely not the goal scorer on the line," she added with a laugh. "Mostly I'm setting them up."
The Gaudet sisters were two of five Cambridge players to play for Team Canada last Friday in the World Ringette championship game against Finland, a 7-5 loss in North Bay.