After a hectic year, Lynette Kryminski finds herself at a crossroads. She has her high school diploma, but she’s not sure what she wants to do with her life. She wants to play university hockey but not quite yet. She wants to get a degree, but not quite yet.
In the meantime, after a year in which she moved away from her home in Winnipeg to play her senior year of high school at Banff Academy in Alberta and then played on her third Team Manitoba at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship, this 18-year-old who grew up at Cross Lake Cree Nation, has decided to take step back, work for the Manitoba Aboriginal Sport and Recreation Council and take stock of her dreams.
“I’m going to go to university next year,” she said. “I decided to take the year off just because I don’t know what I want to do so I’ll probably play in the junior league. I’ll still be training and stuff, so hopefully after I take a year and play junior, I’ll play university hockey.
“The last couple of years I’ve wanted to play college hockey but last year, playing in Banff, it was just so hectic, I kind of lost my mind about where I wanted to go. But I still want to play university hockey. I have to figure out where I want to go. Team Manitoba opened my eyes again about what I wanted to do. I know I really want to play college hockey.
“I want to be a role model for people back home because I’ve had some wonderful opportunities and they just don’t get the opportunities that I’ve had.”
When you’re a youngster living in Cross Lake, hockey can quite easily become a big part of your life. Kryminski wasn’t immune to the lure of the game. She started skating at three and playing hockey at four and, “ever since then I always just played hockey.”
“I started playing squirts with the boys and then when I turned 12, they started the girls league,” she recalled. “But from four to 12 I always played boys hockey. Then at 12, I played girls and boys hockey until I moved to the city when I was 13. At that point, I just played girls.”
She moved to the city “because there were more opportunities,” but she didn’t have any trouble finding a hockey team in Cross Lake.
She started with the Cross Lake Islanders and then, after moving to Winnipeg, played with the St. James Double A Titans.
“Then I kind of bounced around,” she said. “I played one year with the Norman Wild and the I started playing high school hockey, first with Westwood and then St. James Collegiate and then I played for John Taylor. After that I played for an A-1 team and then I went last year and played for Banff Academy.”
She was pretty good out in Banff, good enough to come back to Winnipeg and make Team Manitoba for the third time. Very few players have represented their province at the National Aboriginal Hockey Championship. Kryminski is one of the rare players to do it.
This year, she was part of the bronze medal team from Manitoba.
“That whole week in Kahnewake was great,” she said. “The whole week you’re there, you just get close to everybody and it’s fun. It gives you a chance to play somewhere else, somewhere different and against people you’ve never played against before. You get to play against people from across the country and you kind of find out where you stand nationally. It was a great experience and it was intense I loved it.”
Kryminski calls herself a “stay-at-home” defenseman who is, above all else, responsible in her own end.
“Yeah, I would call myself a stay-at-home defenseman,” she said. “I’d rather keep the opposition from scoring and help my teammates score. I don’t need to score goals to be happy with my play.”
This summer, Lynette has stumbled onto another great opportunity: Especially for a young woman who admits she, “played a bit of volleyball,” but had always chosen hockey first. This summer, she’ll assist the province’s North American Indigenous Games manager, Jacinta Bear, and help Manitoba get ready to send 500 athletes to Regina for NAIG in 2015.
“My focus has always been hockey,” she said. “Even in the summer. But I like my job. It’s fun to be involved with all the sports. I’m looking forward to the Games.”