DEER LAKE, NL — Central Newfoundland athletes were ecstatic to claim the Premier’s Cup for most overall points at the Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games for the first time in the history of event – especially Jenna Lilly of Springdale.
Lilly was chosen as the region’s female representative to accept the coveted cup from Premier Dwight Ball himself as the Games came to a close. Joshua Waterman of Hare Bay accepted the cup as the male representative.
Lilly, a 14-year-old, Grade 9 student at Indian River High and member of central’s female hockey team, was as surprised as anybody to hear her name called to accept the cup.
“It was just random because they wanted somebody from the girls hockey team to go up and get it,” Lilly said. “I was surprised when they called my name.”
After the awe of sharing the stage with the premier and accepting the award wore off, she thought the whole thing was just “cool.”
While the fame of the moment only lasted a short while, back at school on Monday her teachers and fellow students congratulated her on the special occasion.
“I was very proud to represent my region,” she said.
The girls hockey team — which also featured Springdale’s Cieara Chatman and Kylea Keough — fell short of its goal to take home a medal. The team did win two games, but fell in the bronze-medal game to eastern by a 3-0 score.
According to Lilly, the fourth-place finish earned Team Central four points, and she said they won the Premier’s Cup by just two points. So, she felt the girls hockey team contributed to the special award.
“We were all surprised because central usually doesn’t win very much,” she said of the Premier’s Cup.
Since knowing she made the team in January, excitement built as the weeks passed in anticipation of the Games. It was a proud moment for the 14-year-old just to make the team with girls up to 17 years of age eligible.
“It was really fun,” she said. “I got to make a lot of new friends, which was pretty cool.
“The hockey was great, a lot faster than I am used to, but that was good.”
She believes playing a higher caliber of hockey will give her more confidence leading into upcoming provincial tournaments with her Springdale teams.
Off the ice, she enjoyed events like the hypnotist and dance, and had a great time hanging out with athletes from across the province at the Athlete’s Village.
For Marty Bowers of Middle Arm, the Winter Games experience ended a few days before.
The 14-year-old, Grade 9 student at M.S.B. Regional Academy is the proud recipient of a bronze medal as part of the central Newfoundland boys hockey team. After not suffering defeat — a tie knocked the team out of gold-medal contention — he was proud of their effort.
“It was really exciting to get out and play some hockey and win a few games,” Bowers said.
Although he participated in the first half of the Games, word that central had won the Premier’s Cup was still just as special.
“It was nice that our team played a big part in that too,” he said.
He thought the experience would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it lived up to his high expectations.
“Just hanging out with the boys and staying in the school all night, getting to know everybody on the team better than I did before, was awesome,” he said.
Bowers said he developed close friendships with some people from the Corner Brook and St. John’s areas during the Games.
The memories are great, but he also has that medal to remind him of it for years to come.
“It was nice,” he said. “It is something I will always have as a keepsake. In the future, it will be nice to have to always remember.”