Game On Magazine November 2015 - Page 70

Karissa Kirkup: REMAINING PATIENT University of Manitoba Bisons’ forward, Karissa Kirkup’s hockey resume is long and impressive. Then again, her road to the U of M is also long and winding. Two full seasons and two college transfers later, she’s now a Bisons star. By Mike Still Photos by Jeff and Tara Miller K arissa Kirkup first touched the ice when she was eightyears-old, playing on the boys hockey team in Portage La Prairie. By the time she reached Grade 9, in 2009-10, she moved to Virden to play for the Westman Wildcats of the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League. She was the youngest player on the roster that season and they loved her. She played three more years with the Wildcats and by the time she reached Grade 12, she was the team’s captain. From 20112013, she was also Westman’s leading scorer, establishing herself as one of the province’s most highly touted young stars. “My time with the Wildcats was one of the best experiences of my life,” Kirkup said. “The number of friends, connections and memories I made were amazing.” After impressing at the high school level, Kirkup was offered a full athletic scholarship to play for the NCAA Division 1 University of Maine Black Bears. In October of 2012, she accepted the offer, and then, a few months later, was invited to Team Canada’s U-22 off-ice Development Camp in Toronto. Even though she was only 17, she was invited back in August for the camp in Calgary. Her hockey career was taking off. “It was an honour to be invited to a national team camp,” she said. “It really opened my eyes to how many good girl hockey players there are out there. It motivated me to go back to my university team and really train hard because there will always be someone better out there.” Kirkup started her training with Maine in July of 2013, and would stay with the team until the end of the season. The motivation from her time with the national team training was apparent. She posted 13 points in 30 games, and was also named rookie of the week during the week of Dec. 3, 2013. 70 GAME ON NOVEMBER 2015 However, after a year with Maine, she wanted to be closer to home and transferred to the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs program for the 2014-15 season. Her experience there was beneficial, but ultimately the fit wasn’t right, and in December of 2014, she officially came back home, making the commitment to play for the Bisons in 2015-16. Kirkup was unable to play with The Herd from January until September due to the CIS transfer rules, but was thankful for the way head coach Jon Rempel handled the situation. “He was eager to have me