Marla Wheeler is an 18 year old ringette player who simply got involved in the sport when she was told by her parents that she couldn’t sit around doing nothing all winter. But since joining the sport at a young age there’s been no looking back, and her hard work and dedication have meant that in addition to playing U16 and U19 AA level (her team claimed bronze at the most recent Nationals), she’s also been a member of Team Alberta (competing in the Canada Winter Games) and just recently made the U21 National Team.
“The thing I love most about ringette is the speed and the teamwork involved. It’s a high-paced game where you really have to be on your toes and think quickly to win, and for a competitive person like me, it’s an amazing sport! As well, the bond you create with your teammates is just the best. To this day, a lot of my closest friends are girls I’ve played with or against over the past 13 years” says Marla. When asked what she likes most about the Athlete Factory, she goes on to say “I like that I’m able to see the improvement on my speed and power as a result of the work that I’m doing. The focus on explosiveness has been a huge factor in my improvement over the last couple of years. I also appreciate knowing how everything I’m doing is going to apply to my sport and help me be better.”
Marla’s hard work and training in season and out of season is a key factor to her success. During the off season, we were able to make significant improvements in her performance that we have been able to build upon in season as a result of continuing to train 2 to 3 times per week, sometimes up to 6 hours on top of her ringette schedule. Marla’s Performance Coach Tom Clifford explains that “we were able to continue to address her performance needs while ensuring she was feeling ready for her games at the weekend. Training in season, even with a busy sport schedule, is critical for all athletes if they are really serious about achieving their goals. As Marla knows through her training, outstanding performance improvements can be gained without running her into the ground. Each session will vary in intensity, volume and load depending on what else she has scheduled that week and what she has coming up. In the build up to Marla’s Team Canada tryouts, we primarily focused on her evasive ability on the ice thus improving her ability to beat her opponents through change of direction and change of pace. Through various change of direction tasks combined with addressing Marla’s coordination, impulse and posture needs, she was able to take the improvements from the weight room and our sprint and jump sessions to the ice, where it matters most” describes Tom.
Marla is quick to recognize the improvements in her game; “training at the Athlete Factory has helped me become faster and stronger on the ice. My first stride is much more explosive and I’m able to get away from, or catch up to, other players faster than I could two years ago” she says. But she won’t stop there. Next up she has her sights set on playing in the National Ringette League (NRL) in 2020 and ultimately making the Senior National Team. As for advice she might give to other aspiring athletes, she believes in these two simple adages “always work hard, but remember to have some fun” and “it’s okay to make mistakes. Reset and learn from them.”