Every day during the summer there are kids on the ice at the Super Rink, many skating in the National Sports Center’s Next Level Hockey Day-Camp program. It’s hockey heaven for kids who have the inclination to be rink rats.
But for a full month, from mid-July to mid-August, the local rink rats were joined by a very unique hockey mate – 10 year old Bonnie Dong from Beijing, China.
Bonnie, who has played for five years back home, traveled with her parents to Minnesota in search of hockey coaching, on-ice training, and eventually, some games. Bonnie, you see, is pretty much obsessed with hockey, with Olympic aspirations.
But why Minnesota? Her mother Carina credited a friend in China who told the family Minnesota was the place to go for hockey.
“We found out that Minnesota is a good place to play hockey, especially girls’ hockey,” said Carina. “It’s really amazing.”
They first enrolled Bonnie in the Os Hockey training program, a respected Minnesota-based girls’ hockey training program. Once here, her coach in that program recommended the NSC’s Next Level camp to get additional ice time and practice. She will play with the Os Bolts U10 team at the Os Shootout tournament at Braemar Ice Arena in Edina, August 8-11.
Many Minnesota hockey players were born into multi-generation hockey families. For Bonnie, her passion started after seeing hockey in a movie when she was four.
“I see it in a movie,” she said. “I see some person play hockey very well. I like to play hockey too I can run very fast on the ice. I like it and I can score, shoot some score.”
Back home in Beijing Bonnie is the only girl player in her club, and one of only about 50 female players in the entire city of Beijing.
“And Beijing is a big city,” mom points out.
Back home, Bonnie plays with both a boys’ team and a girls’ team.
“In the boys’ team only have me, one girl,” she says. “And then my girl team is like, I’m smaller than them. I’m ten years old and some person are like eleven or twelve. I’m very small in the girl size hockey team.”
Bonnie plays about 16 games a year with her boys’ team and ten a year with the girls’ team
Mom Carina explained that to get enough games Bonnie’s girls’ team has to travel far, flying to games in distant cities in China, plus road games in Taiwan, Korea, Hong Kong and Japan.
Bonnie hopes her Minnesota hockey summer will further her dreams.
“When I come back to China maybe I can be ice hockey star,” she says. “I’m number 88 and I want someone to say 88 and then someone just think, oh it’s Bonnie. And then she play ice hockey very well.”