I never thought having daughters, I would be hanging out in hockey arenas lacing skates and breathing in change room aromas. Growing up in Toronto (back in the day), girls did not play hockey…that was a “boy” sport. Moving to Ottawa I discovered times have changed and this city offers wonderful hockey programs for girls.
The number of females playing hockey is rapidly growing according to the Hockey Canada website. In 1999 there were 43,421 females registered compared to 2009 when the number almost doubled at 85,624.
I remember the day our 5 year old daughter asked if she could play hockey. Hockey??? She informed us that girls could play hockey, you know, and her friends were registered in Fundamentals learn to play program.
I did some research and spoke to parents. Different associations offer programs for girls depending where you live in the city. People shared with me the pros and cons, so I will mention both. Let’s start with some negatives because they might discourage parents from considering the sport.
It is an expensive sport. Compared to others it can be, but keep in mind the season is long and runs from September to the end of March. Being a frugal Mama, there are ways to offset the costs. We swap or borrow used equipment with friends and neighbours. You can also buy and sell used equipment at stores likeTim’s or Play it Again Sports. Individual teams also fundraise and secure sponsorship to help with other costs like tournaments.
It is a big commitment. Our experience in house league is a game or practice Saturday and Sundays. I have heard, as the kids get older the times shift from games on the weekend to mid-week but we haven’t seen much of that. Yes, our weekends are busier, but only during the day.
Now for the good points. Great exercise benefits and skills learned like co-ordination, teamwork, patience and perseverance – all acquired with big emphasis on fun. Every Coach must complete courses on how to coach in a positive, fun way. The local league measures success not by wins/losses or championship trophies, but by girls wanting to participate again next season. I believe the other hockey leagues have similar philosophies. This strategy seems to be working because six years later our girls and their friends continue to play.
For our girls, hockey is social, chatting on the bench, helping each other, making new friends. We like that they have friends outside of school. We notice our youngest daughter grew more confident after her first year. As long as they continue to enjoy the sport, we will be schlepping hockey bags to arenas.
You are never too old to learn hockey. Our daughter’s 11-year-old friend M tried a week of hockey camp to figure out if she would like to play this winter. Tomorrow M is starting her first hockey season. Every year there are girls that never played before and are encouraged to participate. I have 40-year-old girlfriends that are learning to play. Seriously!
Hockey is not for every child, but having two completely different spirited children I can tell you it is a sport that accommodates even the girliest girls. Unbelievably, we have found pink hockey tape, pink sticks, pink skate laces and pink hockey bags. Wayne Gretzky may not know it, but hockey is girlified. Our daughters taught us to open our minds to the sport. Their group of hockey pals demonstrate that girls can get out there and own the good ‘ol hockey game.
Hope to see you in the stands. 🙂
Laura is a wife and Mother to beautiful 8 and 10 year old girls. She describes herself as an eco-advocate and moderate neat freak with a recessive frugal gene. Laura provides light-hearted commentary for every day, practical green living on her blog the Mindful Merchant.