South Surrey’s Josselyn Drayson will play for Canada at the World Roller Games in Barcelona, Spain. (Nick Greenizan photo)

South Surrey inline-hockey player set for World Roller Games

Josselyn Drayson heads to Barcelona, Spain with Canada Inline team

It’s said that you can’t go home again, but Josselyn Drayson is going to try.

For a few weeks, at least.

This week, the 13-year-old Ocean Park resident and hockey player – both of the ice and roller variety – will head to Barcelona, Spain as a member of Canada Inline’s junior women’s roller-hockey team, where they’ll compete in the 2019 World Roller Games.

For most of her teammates, the trip overseas is a chance to visit an exciting, faraway country, but for Drayson and her family, it will instead likely stir up old memories of their time living there.

When she was in Grade 5, her family moved to Spain for a year after her father, Andrew, took a job coaching hockey in Lograño, a city about four hours east of Barcelona.

“I did not want to go at first, because I didn’t want to leave my family, friends and pets,” explained Drayson, who is the youngest of three siblings.

“But it was a great experience. Aside from hockey – I played on two different teams – all the food we ate, the places we got to go see and visit, it was really cool. I’m excited to go back.”

While Drayson will have plenty of time to visit friends and see the Spanish sights, first and foremost on her to-do list is to help her Canadian squad strike gold at the international Roller Games. The junior squad is an under-18 group, and she is among the youngest players on the team.

“I think I’m the only 2005 (born) player, but I don’t really know everyone – the players are from all across the country,” she explained.

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Despite her youth, the Elgin Park Secondary student – who plays ice hockey with the Surrey Falcons female hockey association – said she isn’t intimidated at the thought of going up against older players in Spain. In fact, she’s looking forward to it.

“I find it fun. Also, because I’m really short, I don’t think other players expect me to be aggressive out there, but I feel like I am,” she said.

Though she plays as a forward in ice hockey with the Falcons, Drayson plays inline hockey – which is four-on-four, as opposed to the traditional five skaters-a-side in ice hockey – on defence.

Her father says her impressive skating ability – with both blades and wheels – helps her on defence in the more wide-open inline sport, though Drayson herself has a simpler reason for switching to defence.

“I just found it really fun, and I liked it more,” she said.

Drayson doesn’t play organized roller hockey locally, but was first introduced to the sport a year ago when her dad – who had just finished playing on a Canadian men’s 45-plus inline team – suggested she might like it. She attended a tryout session for a Canadian youth team, made the cut, and won a bronze medal with that group at the Junior Olympics in California.

After excelling there, coaches – who also knew of her ice-hockey resume with the Falcons – asked her to join the current squad of older players.

Though the two sports are obviously similar, Drayson said there were a few adjustments she had to make when transitioning to inline hockey, and then back again to ice in the fall. Mostly, trying to stop.

“Stopping is the big difference. It was really hard at first, and it was so easy for me in ice hockey because I’ve done it for nine years,” she said.

“But you figure it out. Going from ice to inline is fine now, but going back from inline to ice is still hard – you fall a bunch for the first few minutes and then you get used to it again.”

If her Canadian squad finds itself on the podium in Spain, it would mark and impressive run of success for Drayson between her two sports. In addition to her bronze medal last summer in roller hockey, she has won back-to-back provincial championships with the Falcons – two years ago in peewee and last year as a first-year bantam player.

“I really want to win a third provincials. I think that’d be a really amazing thing to be able to say I won three provincial championships – especially three in a row. It would be very cool,” she said.

In addition, Drayson – who began playing with Semiahmoo Minor Hockey before switching to the Falcons in Grade 5 – also plays spring ice hockey the 2005 AAA Prospects, an elite regional squad.

Drayson said that playing with that team – in which players from multiple associations come together – helps her when she joins her new roller-hockey teammates each summer.

“You end up playing with a bunch of new players, but it’s good,” she said. “Girls who I did not like when I played against them (with the Falcons), they’re all like my best friends now.”



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South Surrey’s Josselyn Drayson holds up a Canadian flag while playing inline hockey last summer at the Junior Olympics in California. (Contributed photo)

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