From left: teacher Carmelo Avarino, Payton Vitor, Hannah Coyne, Principal Arlene Martin, teacher Bianca Morra and goalie Clara Karunakar.

By Denise Bacon

The St. Brendan Bruins girls’ hockey team is getting ready for the 10th annual Toronto District Catholic School Board “Girls’ Friendly Hockey Tournament” this month. Thirteen girls from Grade 5 to Grade 8 have been playing on the school’s co-ed team since December, preparing for this girls’ inter-school competition.

Payton Vitor, a Grade 8 student and right winger, has played hockey since she was 4 years old with the Scarborough Sharks. About playing for St. Brendan’s team, Payton said, “Co-ed hockey makes me tougher.” It was clear that she loves the game!

Goalie Clara Karunakar is quite a phenom. Four years ago, she switched from being a skater to tending net. Clara’s dream is to play for Team Canada.  She has qualified to play on the Ontario Team in a tournament in Spain this summer!

Hannah Coyle, another Grade 8 student, is a scoring machine. She plays high-level competitive hockey outside of the St. Brendan team and is on the ice many hours every week. Hannah doesn’t use social media, which frees up her time to balance hockey with her school responsibilities.

Principal Arlene Martin was bursting with Bruin Pride as she effused about St. Brendan. The school has great students, great parents and great staff working together to make St. Brendan a great community. It’s the commitment from everyone that fosters extracurricular activities at the school, like hockey.

Students must maintain their academics to qualify to play on the hockey team, which demands weekly practices and games. Teachers Bianca Morra, Carmelo Avarino and Peter Reilly enthusiastically give their time and talents to the students on and off the ice. They wear their dedication and pride about the students and the co-ed and girls’ teams on their sleeves! Ms Morra is focused on preparing the girls team for the “Girls’ Friendly Hockey Tournament” while they continue playing on the co-ed team.

Ms Martin is a strong advocate for athletics as it builds team and relationship skills and a sense of belonging. Instilling these skills at a young age also prepares the students with health consciousness and healthy habits that students will employ to bring further success in life.

The three students showcased in this article are representative of all the boys and girls who play hockey for St. Brendan’s. They are smart, articulate, confident and full of Bruin Pride. They make Centennial proud, too! Go Bruins!