(Stittsville’s Jalena Marelic is looking forward to representing Team Ontario at the Canada Winter Games being held in PEI from February 18 – March 5, 2023. She is also training in basic fire to become a firefighter and works as an automotive apprentice at Myers Kanata Nissan. Photos: submitted)
Local ringette player Jalena Marelic is going for gold with Team Ontario at the Canada Winter Games. Hosted in PEI this year from February 18th to March 5th, the 2023 Canada Winter Games will bring together 3,600 athletes, managers, and coaches across 20 different sports for Canada’s largest multi-sport event.
At 3 years old, Jalena learned to skate through the Bell Sensplex hockey camps. Soon afterward she started playing ringette with the West Ottawa Ringette Association, where she continued playing until the age of 16. Jalena was a member of the first team from West Ottawa to make it to nationals. She and her teammates placed 4th, and Jalena herself received the first-line All-Star Award.
Since West Ottawa did not have a U19 AA team after that year, Jalena began playing for Nepean’s U19 AA team as well as on the Eastern AAA team in 2019, winning gold at the 2019 Ontario Winter Games in Orillia. Following this win, Jalena had the opportunity to participate in the U17 La Relève Canadian ringette camp.
Instead of competing her last year of U19 AA, Jalena made the decision to join the Nepean National Ringette League (NRL). “I wanted to prepare myself in hopes of being able to try out for the national team. Being the youngest rookie in the league and playing with and against such amazing players has helped me to grow as a player,” Jalena explains. This preparation paid off. In 2022, Jalena was invited to try out for the national team. She was among 22 players to make the team and represent Canada at the world championships in Espoo, Finland, receiving a silver medal in the finals against Finland.
Not long after joining Team Canada, Jalena worked towards making Team Ontario. “The following week after making the national team was the final Team Ontario tryouts, where I am lucky enough to be playing with some of the most talented players in Ontario.” One of 18 players on Team Ontario, Jalena (#19) plays Forward for the team. Asked what she most looks forward to at the Canada Winter Games, Jalena responds, “spending time with my team, cheering on other Ontario athletes, and the competition that we will face competing for gold.”
Outside of ringette, Jalena stays busy between studying, going to the gym, and working. “I am currently studying at the training division: basic fire online. I have fitness standards I need to attain for the fire academy, Team Canada, and Team Ontario so I try to go to the gym 4-5 times a week.” Additionally, Jalena works full-time as an automotive apprentice at Myers Kanata Nissan.
Jalena’s dedication to her sport and to being a team player is clear. “My favourite thing about ringette would be the unforgettable memories this sport brings. No matter if it is good or bad, your success and your failures are done as a team. You get to learn together, how to improve and grow together and those are memories you can’t lose.”