Saskatchewan is known for its long flat roads, but the path Anna Markwart took to the Canada Winter Games was as steep as any athlete might find.
Markwart, a ringette goaltender from Regina, required surgery for some serious damage to the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee. With a prognosis of a year away from the rink, the 18-year-old faced the reality of having to sit out the Canada Winter Games in Red Deer. Having played in the 2015 Canada Games in Prince George at just 14 in an under-20 tournament, Markwart was a good bet to be the starting goalie for Team Saskatchewan in 2019, this time playing alongside the girls she grew up with.
After surgery in November 2017, Anna dove into rehab. Though she missed the 2017-2018 ringette season, she was back in the gym in weeks and back skating in just five months.
“I could have just quit and never played ringette again. But it was my ultimate dream to be here at Canada Games with these girls. They’ve been my family my whole ringette career,” she says. “I just worked my butt off. I had to learn to walk again, ride the bike, run and then coming back on the ice was just amazing.”
While the Canada Games scoreboard wasn’t reading the way she would have liked in an 8-4 opening-game loss to Team Ontario on Saturday, the University of Regina nursing student and her mates were super-hyped for the tournament.
“It was crazy and we were so excited,” she says, after stopping 46 of 54 shots against Ontario. “Coming out on the ice I didn’t even look up in the crowd until I was settled down and got rid of the nerves.”
“Just being able to play well was an accomplishment. Having my story behind me and knowing what I’d been through . . . it was amazing to work for my team.”