Type in “sports confidence quotes” in Google Images and thousands of photos will turn up, photos of hockey, basketball, baseball and football players, of runners, kayakers, and boxers. Confidence can be a large determinant of success for an athlete in any sport. Just ask Victoria Byer, who plays for the Northern Capitals of the British Columbia (BC) Female Midget AAA (FMAAA) program. Why does she thinks she’s having the best offensive season of her FMAAA career? Confidence.
“Over the past three years I lacked confidence,” defender Byer said of her time playing FMAAA. “My coach, Mario [Desjardins], has really helped show me that I am strong enough to put the puck in the net and I feel like my confidence has really improved.”
Named the FMAAA December 2015 Player of the Month, Byer is among the league’s highest scoring defenders. A third-year player, she has five goals and 11 points in 24 games this season, already surpassing the eight points she had in 22 games last season. Her offensive side exploded in the month of December, when she scored three goals and one assist in four games. She currently leads the Capitals’ defenders in goals, assists and points.
Byer is not the only one who has noticed that her confidence has improved. Northern Capitals head coach Mario Desjardins also attributes a lot of Byer’s recent success and improvement to an increase of confidence.
“Every year she continues to get better and better … [this year she] has brought more confidence as part of her game … its been her probably biggest area of growth as far as her development goes this year,” said Desjardins.
Byer has worked hard to improve, practicing her shot off the ice and bringing a noticeably hard work ethic to practices and games.
“I think she leads … by her example on the ice and her work ethic and what she brings to every game, as she always gives it 100% on the ice for sure,” said Desjardins.
Besides contributing offensively, Byer has been a dependable force in the defensive end as well. She considers herself to be a positionally strong defenseman who can read plays well.
“She doesn’t get beat very often, she does a great job with closing the gap and containing any kind of pressure from the offense,” said Desjardins. “She’s solid in all three zones of the ice, and anybody looking for a defenseman, that’s what they look for.”
Growing up in Williams Lake, BC, Byer learned to skate on her family members’ outdoor rinks. As a young child she watched her older brothers play hockey and felt driven to follow in their footsteps and play the game as well. She played on boys teams for most of minor hockey, however as she grew older, Byer wanted to be able to challenge herself and play at a high level, so she moved to Prince George (which is a two and a half hour drive away from Williams Lake) to play for the Capitals.
The Capitals are currently the second ranked team in the league, with a 16-5-3 record. Previously called the Northern Cougars (and the Prince George Cougars before that), the Capitals won last season’s BC FMAAA Championship and went on to represent BC at the 2015 Pacific Midget Regional Championship, where they lost the three games series to the Edmonton Thunder. As one of the top teams in the league, the Capitals are sure to have another shot at going to and winning the Pacific Midget Regional Championship this year.
In her third and final season with the Capitals, Byer has had great opportunities to develop her hockey skills and to travel the province and play against other high-calibre teams. For the past three years the Capitals have attended the esteemed Mac’s Midget AAA Tournament. The first two years they went they didn’t do as well as they were hoping, but this year the team brought a little more confidence and ended up winning the whole thing, beating the Rocky Mountain Raiders 5-1 in the final.
“The first couple games of the tournament are always the most important, so we came out and we battled hard and we won those two,” said Byer. “When we made it to the semis we were even more confident … everyone stayed positive and we made it to the finals.”
While winning and travelling to big tournaments is fun, what Byer has enjoyed most about her experience in the BC FMAAA program has been the bonds she has developed with her teammates and the chances she has had to do something she loves to do.
“I really like playing with the Capitals because over the past three years we’ve grown close bonds with each other, and that’s something that is really important, to have a connection off the ice as well as on the ice,” said Byer.
“I think my favourite thing about hockey is all the friends that I’m able to make while I’m enjoying something that I really like. Seeing everyone also love something that you love is kind of awesome because you’re with people that love the same thing as you.”
This season, Byer was chosen by her teammates to be an assistant captain, and as she has built up her relationships with her teammates and her on confidence in her skill, she has worked to bring her positive attitude and hard work ethic to the dressing room and the rink.
“I’m a pretty positive person, I don’t like to get down too much,” Byer said. “I just always try to keep a smile on my face so that the atmosphere that’s coming off me kind of rubs off on everyone else. If we’re all in a positive mood then positive things will come to us.”
Byer’s future is bright. She is bringing a lot of confidence with her going into the end of her last year of FMAAA as she continues to develop her offensive and defensive play. She plans on playing hockey at a university and dreams of playing professional hockey in the CWHL or NWHL.
For more information about the BC FMAAA program, please visit their website: http://www.bchockey.net/FMAAA/Default.aspx