Having enjoyed a sensational season, consisting of key on-ice heroics, complemented by ranking second in scoring for the rising UOIT Ridgebacks, Chelsea Ball is working towards helping the program reach its promise. With a supporting smile and a solid team-first approach, her values permeate the program.
In the aftermath of the 2015-16 campaign, Ball was recognized as the recipient of the University’s James-Baun Cup while recording a career high in points, placing second on the team. Recognizing one student-athlete from the University’s hockey teams, the criteria involves commitment, dedication, perseverance, academic responsibility and leadership. Named in honor of Maple Leafs legend Bobby Baun, it is testament to Ball’s character.
Building on the momentum of such a solid season, Ball would exceed her previous career high, while placing second on the team once again in 2017. Experiencing a career-high 18 points, trailing only Kassidy Nauboris, a member of the 2017 OUA Second Team All-Stars, in the Ridgebacks scoring race, Ball still managed to put her stamp on the team in grand fashion.
Among the unprecedented peaks during the 2016-17 Ridgebacks season, Ball’s contributions were essential in a milestone win that ended said season on a very positive note.
Culminating with a February 18 home affair against Laurier, Ball emerged as a key contributor in the 3-0 blanking. Gaining an assist with Nauboris on the first goal of the game, scored by Nicole Zabel, it was the catalyst that made the team believe the sweep was possible.
Prior to the 2016-17 season, the Ridgebacks had a cumulative 1-24-0 mark against the Golden Hawks. With freshman Briar Hughes gaining the shutout in the unprecedented season sweep of Laurier, it also resulted in the program’s first shutout in conference play since Tori Campbell blanked Nipissing on Halloween 2014.
Contributing in a key chapter in program history, it was equally a proud career highlight for Ball. Displaying the ability to rise to the occasion against a traditional conference power, it is an extension of her growing legacy with the program.
“It was good to end off the year on a high note. It was great to finally get some wins against that team.”
Prior to the Ridgebacks’ holiday break, Ball proved to be just as effective, as the program continued to enjoy key wins. A weekend sweep during November 26-27, 2016 was such a time, exemplifying Ball’s important impact on offense.
Recording a pair of assists in a 4-3 overtime road win against the Ryerson Rams, both of Ball’s assists proved to be timely. With Ryerson holding a 2-1 lead in the second period, she would collaborate with Shanelle Doucette on a goal by Nicole LoPresti.
After Ryerson reclaimed the lead in the third period with Alex Rodriguez scoring her second goal of the game, Ball would help the Ridgebacks capitalize on special teams. With less that two minutes in the third, Ball and Jenna Carter assisted on Nicole Gorda’s power play tally. Doucette would score the overtime winner, as the momentum was clearly shifted in the Ridgebacks’ favor.
The following day, Ball scored twice, including the game-winning tally, as the Ridgebacks defeated the Laurentian Voyageurs in a tight 4-3 final. Scoring on Laura Deller, it was Ball’s first game-winning tally of the season. For her efforts, she was recognized as UOIT’s Female Athlete of the Week.
“I was really happy and excited to be named Athlete of the Week. That was when we beat Laurier at home. We scored three unanswered goals, and that had never happened before. It was good to see hard work pay off and to be recognized for what you did.”
Another aspect that Ball is proud of is to be involved with her teammates in the community. Serving as tremendous hockey humanitarians and model students, the team has made multiple visits to Grandview Children’s Centre, enriching the lives of the students there.
“It is great for us to be involved in the community. We went to Grandview a couple of times and it was great to see those kids’ faces light up.”
The season also saw the Ridgebacks participate in the admirable “Let’s Talk Campaign” for mental health. Ball was joined by proud teammates, gaining an audience with University president Dr. Tim McTiernan. Undoubtedly, it provided a proud highlight for a jubilant Ball, as the meeting truly emphasized the sense of team spirit and cooperation, #oneteamformentalhealth
“It felt that way as not many people get to meet with him. The “Let’s Talk” Campaign was for a good cause and pretty much the whole OUA was behind it.”
Such a strong sense of team unity is one that shall take on a more profound meaning for the season to come. With the arrival of 10 new players, it is helping to construct a new configuration, reinventing the Ridgebacks roster, while establishing a solid foundation for the future. Undoubtedly, their presence is one that is serving as a tremendous source of confidence for Ball, who remarks that it has elevated the overall approach to improving the program’s fortunes.
“Honestly, it is so nice to have them all here. The intensity level is higher in practice. Everyone is giving 110 percent and no one wants to give up. It is great to see that and I like to give advice.”
After the Ridgebacks finished in tenth place in the 2017 OUA regular season standings, motivation is high to improve, reaching the promised land of the postseason. Ready to contribute towards such realization, Ball is also looking at the goal of reaching the 20-point plateau for the first time in her storied career. In discussing what it will take to qualify for the postseason, an optimistic Ball is ready to help set the tone,
“Definitely, our goal is to make the playoffs. It will take team unity, lots of hard work and practice. If we get our system down, and make sure everyone is on the same page and onboard, I believe it can happen.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Images obtained from Facebook and Twitter: https://twitter.com/UOITRidgebacks