VERNON, B.C. — Jenna Fletcher, 19, was born in China before being adopted by a Vernon family. At six-years-old, she began loving hockey — street hockey, then ice hockey.
“I grew up on a cul-de-sac, always playing road hockey. I think that just drove me to want to play ice hockey and I officially started the next year when I was in Grade 2. I was 7 years old,” said Fletcher.
Growing up, she played minor league ice hockey in Vernon. She played midget for the Thompson Okanagan Lakers (FMAAA). Then in Grade 11, with university looming, she accepted a UBC athletic scholarship. Today Fletcher is a 5’ 10” sophomore studying computer science and playing forward for the Thunderbirds.
Earlier this year, she was recruited again — this time for Team China. She has been asked to represent the Chinese National Women’s Hockey Team on their home turf for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
After being put in contact with Team China’s recruiting officer through her head coach at UBC, she agreed to explore this option. So she, alongside 24 other North Americans — three of whom are also teammates at UBC — travelled to Shenzhen, China for two weeks for China’s first official Olympic development camp in May.
“The team that they brought over, which consisted of all the North Americans, were part of one team: Team Shenzhen,” Fletcher said. “And while we were there, we played the [current] national team and beat them by quite a bit. So now their overall goal is for us to represent them in Beijing in four years, though it’s not set in stone because there are a few barriers.”
She explained that while she is sure these hurdles will be taken care of within the three-year window before the next Winter Olympics, it’s more questionable whether she — alongside other North Americans — will be eligible to compete on the world stage for international competitions prior.
Regardless, she said she’s excited about the opportunity.
“Going to the Olympics is the goal for them but it’s an incredible opportunity for me, too,” she said. “Everyone involved has the same goal.”
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