By Еvan Osentоn
It would be hard to find a University of Calgary athlete with a resume as impressive as Robyn Rittmaster’s.
The third-year Dino women’s hockey goaltender backstopped her team to an impressive 9-3 record in the regular season. She was the last cut from the under-22 Canadian national team that went to Germany. Add to this that she has already won a Canada Interuniversity Athletics Union national championship as a striker for the U of C women’s soccer squad in 1999.
Which begs the question–which sport is her first love?
"When I’m playing soccer, I like soccer better, but when I’m playing hockey, I like hockey better," says the admitted Boston Bruins fan. "I’ve been [a] national champion [in soccer]. I want to repeat that in hockey."
Rittmaster grew up playing both soccer and hockey in St. Margaret’s Bay, Nova Scotia. When university came calling, she chose the U of C over schools in the us and in Eastern Canada.
"My first reason for coming here was the High Performance Female Hockey program," she says. "I heard Calgary was the place to be for hockey. I wanted to find a place where I could concentrate on school and also a place to develop [as an athlete] and Calgary offered both of that."
Her soccer career peaked in 1998 with the winning of the CIAU championship, so the Economics major decided to concentrate fully on hockey and school.
Rittmaster says she would love a career as a professional women’s hockey player if the chance arose.
"I still love hockey and I’m going to love it when I’m done university," she says. "I’m ranked third [in Canada] in my age group. Hopefully I can move up on that. There’s been a lot of talk of a Canada-wide women’s league and that’s going to start next year with a team in Vancouver. I don’t know if the money is there yet for a ‘WNHL,’ but this is a first step.
"The Olympics are a goal, but I’ve got to keep improving. I think I’m one of the best goalies in the CIAU so I want to move up from that."
Next year will be a great opportunity for Rittmaster and the rest of the Dinos to hone their skills and show them off to an ever-increasing legion of fans.
"We have a chance to host nationals next year so it’s going to be a big year for us," she says. "We don’t want a free ride. We want to go as the first place team."
One opponent Rittmaster would like to meet in the playoffs next year is McGill University. Her twin sister Dana plays forward for the Martlets, and Rittmaster admits there is a big rivalry between the two.
"Growing up there was a lot of rivalry," she says. "We both played hockey and soccer. It’s kind of good to go away to university and get away from each other, but I’m glad I had that competition growing up. I’m sure it made me a better player. If my sister sees me not working hard, she’ll be the first to tell me."
Rittmaster refused to speculate on who the better athlete is.
"I can’t answer that," she laughed. "It might get back to Montreal and I don’t want to hear about that."
But before she gets too focused on McGill, Rittmaster knows the Dinos have to have more success against their hated rivals from the University of Alberta.
"I bring a work ethic and a will to win to the Dinos. I’m not here to lose to the U of A every year," she laughs. "I hope we take advantage of the opportunity to host nationals and we put on a good show. We were close [to beating the Pandas last year]. I think a little bit of luck and more depth on our team and we will."
To illustrate her point, Rittmaster stands outside MacEwan Hall carefully carving the letters "U of A" into the snow with the butt-end of a hockey stick. She admires her work for a second, then smashes the enemy logo into oblivion seconds later.
One cannot help but be impressed by this woman’s dedication to the Dino cause.