MAKING WAVES: Cornwall sending a player to underwater hockey world tourney

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CORNWALL, Ontario - Have you ever just started something and found yourself immediately world-class?

Probably not - but then again, your name isn't Mackenzie Quesnel.

The smiling Grade 9 student at Ecole secondaire La Citadelle took up the sport of underwater hockey just eight months ago. She has parlayed her love of the sport into a spot on the women's national junior team that will head to Spain next summer to play for the world underwater hockey title.

And she's not alone when it comes to local swimmers hitting the big time.

She's been joined by Cooper Campbell and her brother Casey to play on the mixed Ontario provincial team that will take part in the Canadian national competition.

"I feel like I just started and I'm competing at a global level," she said at a media event Monday to officially unveil the second-place banner she and her teammates won at the recently completed U19 championship in Guelph.

Quesnel will head to Ottawa this summer to train under coach Pierre Larose along with other national team members for 10 days.

"I can play all positions," she said. "Defence, forward, centre."

Underwater hockey is much like you would expect - hockey played in a pool. Players and referees wear a mask, snorkel and fins and carry a small curved hockey stick to push a weighted puck toward a metal net. Players wear matching team trunks. a black or white cap and stick is used to distinguish between home and visiting teams. Players also wear a glove on whatever hand holds their stick, to protect their knuckles.

Underwater hockey in Cornwall has been a thriving, if not marginal sport, since a team was founded in 1969 by Ron MacDonald, who today owns Ron's Scuba Shop. Four members of the Cornwall team have played for Canada in the Elite Adult Division.

The Quesnel siblings and Campbell are all students at La Citadelle. The Quesnels are Cornwall Sea Lions alumni while Campbell learned to swim via his father.

Organizations: Scuba Shop, Elite Adult Division, Cornwall Sea Lions

Geographic location: Cornwall, Ontario, Spain Guelph Ottawa Canada

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