First and foremost Coach Palleschi would like to thank coach Darryl Drain for helping coach the U12 girls this past year.. He did a great job developing the U12 girls last year, and in particular the 6 returning girls that started with him as Grade 5s. The girls were very lucky to have him as a coach again this year.
The team would also like to thank Ashley Empey, Stacy Lyall and Melissa Copen-Gabourie for helping with hotels, logistics and running Teamsnap and Gary Lyall for helping coach on the bench during the Ontario Cup. Thanks to all the parents for their support throughout the year. Finally a big thanks to Erin as president and the rest of the executive, presiding over a very successful and virtually trouble free year including, with a special callout to Sara Rozema for her outstanding communications throughout the year which I’m sure will help our recruiting efforts next year.
This year’s U12 Spirits team was composed of 10 Grade 6s (including 6 returning players) , 1 Grade 5 player and 1 Grade 4 player.
Unexpectedly, the team was placed in Division 1 of the OBL, just below OBLX to start the season. With only a few practices under their belt, the parents were cautioned that this could get ugly and to be patient. We prepared to do our best with an eye to re-ranking ½ way through which would likely drop us to a more appropriate level of competition.
The kids, however, had another thing in mind. The team won their 1st Division 1 OBL game (by 1 point) and the girls not only started in Division 1, they proved they belonged. The team went 2-4 (competitive in all 6 games) and remained in Division 1 after the re-ranking which saw 2 of the teams we played competitively move up to OBLX to replace 2 other OBLX teams that moved down to Division 1. Things were not going to get any easier. Outside of Division 1 teams, the U12 girls had little trouble with teams below Division 1.
The girls continued to play competitively, often down 1 or 2 players, that finally led to a 13th place final ranking in the Province which placed them 5th in the Division 1 pool of the Ontario Cup.
The Ontario Cup was the highlight of the season as the girls went 2 and 1 and tied for 1st overall in pool play; being that close to unbelievably qualifying for Division 1 Gold.. The team, however, lost the tie-breaker to the #1 ranked team and eventual Gold Medal winner putting them in the Bronze Medal game.
In the bronze medal game, the girls started slowly and were down 25-5 after the 5th shift to the 2nd ranked team in Division 1. After a spirited time-out, they dominated the rest of the game only to come up short 37-29. Still a great effort by all the girls and a final ranking of 12th, moving up 1 spot after the Ontario Cup.
The coaches are very proud of what this group of girls accomplished this year, exceeding all of their expectations. With fair play in U12 you need all 12 kids to contribute in order to play at a Division 1 level and these girls did just that. More importantly, all of the girls improved from the start of the season. The future of the Spirits looks very bright and we look forward to seeing how these girls continue to develop as they continue their competitive careers for the Spirits.
It was a privilege coaching these fine young ladies!