Having established herself as one of the cornerstones for the Guelph Gryphons offensive attack, Kelly Gribbons has grown into so much more than just a leadership role. Simultaneously, this engineering major is also an ambassador for the program, ranging from one of the most notable players to gaining the chance to skate for Canada’s team at the Winter Universiade.
After a memorable playoff run in 2016, one that saw the Gryphons usurp conference powers such as the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks and the defending national champion Western Mustangs, Gribbons is taking on the goal of another shot at a national championship, with the dream of reaching unprecedented heights in program history.
The chance to compete at the CIS national championships in both 2015 and 2016 represents an osmosis of blossoming talent, exceptional coaching and potential reached. Such strong seasons have only motivated Gribbons and her teammates,
“Competing at nationals for the last two years was great experience and something that I am hoping our team will be able to accomplish again this year. We have a great group of girls that are all hungry to win the OUA championship again, return to nationals and even improve on our result from last year. Although we are a young team, I believe we have the ability to return to the national championship again.”
Prior to donning the Gryphons colors, representing another accomplished chapter in her athletic endeavors, Gribbons, who was raised in Port Elgin, Ontario, was a track and field star. Representing Saugeen District, she enjoyed double gold at the 2013 CWOSSA track and field championships. Not only did her distance of 44.53 meters result in the best throw at the discus competition, she also topped all competitors in the shot put, with a throw of 11.86 meters.
Playing for head coach Joe Chaffe with the Saugeen Maitland Midget AA Lightning, which featured a collection of talent from a wide cross section of Mid-Western Ontario, she had the opportunity to call Shea Tiley, a future competitor with Canada’s U18 team, as a teammate. Among her highlights with the club, she captured a bronze medal at the 2013 Lower Lakes League finals. In the bronze medal contest, Gribbons would score a hat trick, leading the way in victory against the Etobicoke Dolphins.
In her third season with the Gryphons, Gribbons continues to provide sensational scoring performances, helping lead the way for a program ambitious to finish the season atop the OUA standings. Through the opening weekend of December 2016, Gribbons is tied for first in OUA conference scoring with 16 points, while pacing all skaters with 10 assists.
During such a solid first half, Gribbons, whose 5’10" frame is an imposing presence on the ice, has proven to be an essential component to the Gryphons on-ice glories. Testament to her abilities is the fact that the club enjoys an 8-1 mark whenever she logs at least one point.
So far this season, Gribbons has enjoyed six multi-point performances, highlighted by a three assist performance against the York Lions on November 3. A two-goal output against Ryerson represented another impressive showing, as her power play tally was also the game-winner. With such a strong start in the first half of the season, this scoring sensation cites several elements in helping her reach her superstar potential,
“I feel like there are a number of factors that have played into my strong start to the season. First, the hard work put in over the summer leading up to the season definitely helped prepare me from a conditioning and strength standpoint.
Also, the experience I had while in Calgary as a member of Team CIS during the Team Canada development camp showed me areas in my game to work on and allowed me to play alongside some of the best womens’ hockey players in Canada. Finally, my teammates, coaches, trainers, friends, and family definitely play a huge part to my success at this level, due to their constant support.”
While the calendar year of 2016 provided Gribbons with many successes in her career, she is possibly destined to attain even greater acclaim. With the onset of the New Year, she has earned the special privilege of donning the Canadian jersey, ready to represent at the Winter Universiade in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Taking into account that 2017 also represents Canada’s sesquicentennial, the chance for Gribbons to wear the Maple Leaf on her sweater during such a significant time in the nation’s history, one that shall be commemorated in the hearts and minds of fellow Canadians with treasured memories, represents several special opportunities. From the outset, Canada’s dominance in women’s ice hockey at the Winter Universiade is an important part of sporting Canadiana.
With the Canadian contingent looking to capture a gold medal, which would also avenge the final outcome of the 2015 edition of the Winter Universiade, which saw rival Russia best Canada in the gold medal game, such a win would help set a patriotic tone in the celebratory year that shall unfold. Adding to the jubilation of this milestone for Gribbons is the fact that she will gain the privilege to share in the experience with fellow Gryphons Valerie Lamenta and Katherine Bailey,
“Being chosen to attend the Winter Universiade is an honour and being able to share that experience with two of your teammates is truly something special. I’m very excited to be representing Canada not only with Valerie and Katherine, but also with other girls from across the country.
Winning the gold would be very memorable, especially considering that Canada lost in the finals at the previous Universiade and some players will be returning, so to get Canada back to the top of the podium would be amazing.”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
Images obtained from: https://gryphons.ca/roster.aspx?path=whockey