A superb season just got even better from Kristen Campbell.
During her first year away from home, the 16-year-old Brandonite backstopped the Shaftesbury Titans to a Female World Sport School Challenge championship title last month and has now committed to play hockey at her dream university. This week, Campbell committed to the University of North Dakota, an NCAA Division I school and the university she hoped she’d be able to attend since she was in Grade 9.
"The feeling when I’m down there and feeling with the coaches, it’s just a place where I can see myself playing and see myself having success there because of the resources they have there and the programs," she said. "Words can’t even describe how I feel about the place. It’s always been a dream of mine to go there and to know that’s where I’m going to be playing in the future, I can’t even describe it."
Campbell, a 5-foot-10 goalie, has had a very successful hockey career so far. She played two seasons with the Westman Wildcats of the Manitoba Female Midget Hockey League, starting as an underage player while she was in Grade 9.
This season, she decided to join the Winnipeg-based Titans prep school, which is sanctioned by Hockey Manitoba as a Hockey Canada sports school. She has excelled there, logging 1,443 minutes of ice time over 30 games while posting a 25-3-1 record. She also set team records with a superb 0.92 goals-against average and a .941 save percentage.
Overall, the team went 48-7-3 and won four tournaments, but none was more prestigious than the Female World Sport School Challenge, the national championships for sports schools, which was held in Winnipeg in March.
Shaftesbury beat Pursuit of Excellence from Kelowna, B.C., 5-2 in the championship final as Campbell stopped 21 shots.
Campbell also played in a pair of games at the under-18 national women’s hockey championship for Team Manitoba in November.
It has been a dream season for Campbell and she’s proud of her accomplishments.
"That’s something I wanted to push for this year is to have the numbers as well as the results," she said. "My team was strong as well, but we had games against some of the top programs in Canada, so to know that I could still have a season like I had last year and keep up the consistent numbers was great for me."
Campbell said it was a huge relief to commit to UND, as it has been weighing on her mind for some time. Now she plans to focus on training, on and off the ice, during the rest of the school year, with the hopes of being called to a Team Canada camp in the summer.
Although it was tough for Campbell to move away from home when she was 15, she believes the rewards have been worth the risk and is looking forward to one more year at Shaftesbury before joining North Dakota.
"I couldn’t have had a better experience at Shaftesbury," she said. "The environment of the hockey school pushes you to be your best every day. Our coach is a teacher at our school as well. The girls meet in his room at lunch and talk hockey. There is a balance between hockey and school, but that helps thinking about hockey every day as well as trying to manage academics."