“It was really frustrating,” she said. “I thought about quitting a little bit. But after I got over the disappointment, I saw that it was a way to get better.”
Instead of giving up on the sport and walking away, Ritzer dedicated herself to sticking with hockey and working toward her goal of once again earning her spot on the varsity team.
“I knew that hockey was a sport that I loved and wanted to play,” she said. “I knew I had another chance to make the team. Being on the JV team was still playing hockey, and I wanted to play. Coach (Ed) Oteri is a great coach and the girls were great. It was still fun and I worked hard.”
That dedication and passion made quite an impression on Keady, who was hired before last season as the head coach of the Golden Warriors.
“The JV team is very small and is actually funded by the youth program,” Keady said. “But she stuck with it and worked so hard to get better. She was also an excellent leader as captain of the JV team.”
Once winter arrived this season, Ritzer had visions of varsity in her head.
“You never really know what is going to happen,” she said. “But I knew that I had a chance because I worked really hard. It was nerve-racking. But when I found out, it was really amazing. When my coach told me, it meant so much to me. All my hard work had finally paid off.”
But that was just the start.
Soon after, she received an even bigger surprise, when she was named a tri-captain, alongside longtime friends Weezie Gross and Mikayla Panneton.
“We didn’t pick the captains right away,” Ritzer said. “We told the coaches who we thought would be the best captains and the coaches made the final decision. I guess the kids thought I would be a good decision.