An Edge School for Athletes student enjoyed the rare opportunity to show off her singing chops to the C of Red last week.
Seventeen-year-old Calgary resident and Edge School senior Charley Kobelka got to sing both the Canadian and American national anthems at the Scotiabank Saddledome on Jan. 21, before the Calgary Flames' home game against the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I can’t actually hear myself singing, but it felt good,” the Grade 12 student said. “I’m pretty happy with how it went.”
This wasn't the first time Kobelka sang the pre-game anthems at the Saddledome. She said it was her second time doing so at a Flames home game, having made her anthem-singing debut at last year's Family Day game in mid-February.
She's also sung at a few Calgary Wranglers games and a Calgary Hitmen game this year.
However, she said last week's Flames game was her first time belting out the anthems in front of a full-capacity, 19,000-person crowd. She noted the Saddledome was only half-full when she sang at the Flames game last February, as the arena was still operating under COVID-related restrictions at the time.
“It was only half-capacity because of COVID, but it was still a surreal experience,” she said. “I was terrified. I’m always terrified. My one thing is, ‘Look like you’re happy and you want to be there and you’re not freaking out.’”
Adding to her jitters this time around, Kobelka said the Jan. 21 game against the Lightning was the main broadcast for Hockey Night in Canada that day, which meant her singing was on display for the entire country tuning in on TV.
“That was extremely terrifying, but when I was out there, I get kind of [zen] when I perform, and it was really cool looking out and seeing all these people singing the anthem with me,” she said. “It was the first time I’d sung the American anthem at a Flames game, and when they yell ‘C!’ or ‘Red!’ it’s pretty crazy.”
Kobelka is no stranger to the Saddledome, as her father Kent is the head physiotherapist for the Flames and previously held a similar role for Team Canada. It was through that familial connection that she was first encouraged to audition to sing the anthem.
“My dad worked with Hockey Canada for a long time, so I’ve always kind of been around hockey,” she explained. “Last year, he got me to do an audition tape and we sent it in, and they liked me. I’ve made a lot of really good connections through him.”
While she used to play hockey competitively, Kobelka said she's always been more serious about her singing. To go with her singing career, she said she eventually switched over to dance, and is now a member of the dance program at Edge School – a private school in Springbank for elite student-athletes.
“I grew up playing hockey and soccer – I have always been a very active kid – but dance kind of made the most sense, with singing,” she said. “Being a singing hockey player doesn’t really [make that much sense].”
Nonetheless, Kobelka is very much from a hockey family, as her older brother Christopher (an Edge alumnus) is currently a junior A hockey player for the Fort McMurray Oil Barons.
When asked if country star George Canyon (who usually sings the anthems at Flames' home games) has to worry about losing his spot to her in the near future, Kobelka only laughed, adding “that's the dream.”
“I don’t want to kick him out because he’s done it for years and is extremely talented, but I wouldn’t mind sharing the stage with him,” she said.