Considering that women’s ball hockey quickly grows in prominence, especially at the international level, the rise of talent has run parallel, truly creating a world class competition. With the progression in prominence, it has presented a unique opportunity for the women of ice hockey to experience off-season conditioning while maintaining their love of the game. With the chance to experience such a high level of play, opportunity also becomes the defining theme of the expanding game.
As the next edition of the ISBHF World Ball Hockey Championships shall take place in Pardubice, Czech Republic during the month of June 2017, the Italian national women’s ball hockey team is looking for players to don their jersey. Of note, the team emerged from the 2015 ISBHF Worlds in Zug with tremendous momentum.
Among the feel-good moments of the tournament was the fact that Christina and Pamela D’Ambrogio were among a rare pair of siblings competing. One of Christina’s former teammates at the NCAA level (where she played at Holy Cross), Samantha Rush, was also a member of Team USA, adding to her sense of jubilation.
Proudly serving as the Captain of the Italian Women’s National Ball Hockey team, Christina represents the potential for growth in the game. Raised in the Greater Toronto Area, she is one of many Italian-Canadians whose heritage was enhanced by the chance to both honor her ancestors and show her love for Canada’s beloved sport of hockey by wearing the Italia colors in such a remarkable setting, allowing for a seminal moment. It is that kind of experience that she hopes potential players will find by commiting to play for Team Italia.
“We are actively recruiting elite athletes because we are committed to our goal in becoming a competitive force. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for athletic Italian females to compete at an International stage! Not many people are blessed with this opportunity. We are reaching out to every Italian female hockey player from all over the world!”
Based in the city of Toronto, the Italian National Ball Hockey Federation involves a group of dedicated individuals at all levels of the game working towards elevating Team Italia to the upper echelon of teams in global ball hockey play. Of note, several members from the Italian National Women’s Ball Hockey Team were on-hand at the CWHL’s inaugural Pave The Way ball hockey tournament held at Toronto’s Ontario Place. Toronto Furies captain Michelle Bonello, who has also played on the Canadian inline team added to the sense of Italian-Canadian pride at the event. As Toronto holds the largest percentage of citizens of Italian heritage in any Canadian city, it is an ideal setting to help forge the future.
The women’s team features the efforts of head coach Rick DiBiase and the INBHF Secretary and Treasurer Flora Pannunzio, who shall also serve as Team Italia’s General Manager for the 2017 Worlds. She has also contributed her efforts towards the Greater Toronto Women’s Ball Hockey League, which has also featured a team composed of Italian-Canadians.
Among Pannunzio’s career highlights, she served as team captain on the inaugural Team Italia that made its debut at the 2013 ISBHF Worlds. captured a national championship in a coaching and administrative capacity with the Toronto Shamrocks in 2015. Both have embodied the strong sense of community in the sport while fostering friendship and honoring their proud Italian roots.
Eligibility for Team Italy meets three different criteria. From the outset, Italian citizenship represents one of the most suitable options. Another option involves Italian residency, in which one has been actively living in Italy.
In addition, another avenue to consider is qualifying as a Heritage Status Player, whereby a successful applicant shall be able to provide proof of a bloodline connection to Italy. Such a connection would require the presentation of documents such as a grandfather’s Italian birth certificate, followed by a parent’s birth certificate, and the player’s birth certificate.
There have also been occasions in which Heritage Status Players subsequently qualified for Italian citizenship. Taking into account that Team Italia is only eligible to accept an allotted amount of Heritage Status players, the squad is allowed an unlimited amount of Italian citizens or Italian residents. As a side note, the INBHF is glad to assist any potential player in the process of obtaining an Italian citizenship. More detailed information is also available online: http://www.constoronto.esteri.it/consolato_toronto/en/in_linea_con_utente/modulistica
Undoubtedly, the biggest element in recruiting is the fact that Team Italia is looking for women with a competitive nature, bringing a background in either ball or ice hockey. As the 2015 roster of Team Italia evidenced, recruits came from numerous facets. In addition to Christina D’Ambrogio, who graduated from Holy Cross in 2011, there were three other players that brought a unique element to the roster.
Quite possibly the greatest Italian-Canadian women’s ice hockey player of her generation, Nicole Corriero, who rewrote the scoring records at Harvard University donned Team Italia’s colors. In addition, a pair of players from the Canadian Women’s Hockey League also comprised a pair of remarkable recruits.
Having won a Clarkson Cup in 2014 with the Toronto Furies, Kori Cheverie proudly joined Team Italia in their ambitions for a successful showing at the 2015 Worlds. Of note, Cheverie would emerge as one of the tournament’s highest scorers. Joining Cheverie was another CWHL superstar, Liz Knox, who appeared in the 2012 Clarkson Cup finals.
The involvement of such remarkable and accomplished women definitely provided Team Italia with a chance to compete in every contest at the Worlds. With this strong impetus, the team hopes for an even better showing in 2017. One encouraging sign is the fact that the men’s Team Italia captured a bronze medal at the 2016 ISBHF World Masters Ball Hockey Championships in Banff, Alberta, making the dream of a podium finish for the women’s team even more possible. Even though the vast majority of elite ice hockey talent can be found at the university level (NCAA or CIS/OUA), or in a professional league such as the CWHL or the NWHL, D’Ambrogio is quick to acknowledge that the recruiting efforts extend beyond such borders,
“Even though the INBHF is stationed in Toronto, Canada, it does not mean we are only looking for talent within the Toronto area. We want to hear from Italian female hockey players from all over world! Especially ladies located in Canada, USA, and Europe. The ability to recruit from all over the world gives our program a unique ability no other program has – and we want to take advantage of it! We are driven and committed to improving our program to create ultimate success in 2017!”
“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”
* For players interested in competing for Team Italy, they must complete the following interest form and click the "Submit" button at the bottom. http://www.inbhf.com/index.php?p=custom&page_id=4
*If anyone has any questions, they may contact: [email protected]
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