Giv­ing girls a start in hockey

45 area girls re­cently re­ceived equip­ment through Cana­dine Tire First Shift pro­gram

The Daily Observer - - SPOIORTS - SEAN CHASE SChase@post­

Girls from across the re­gion en­rolled re­cently in the Cana­dian Tire “First Shift” pro­gram, an ini­tia­tive de­signed to make en­ter­ing hockey more ac­ces­si­ble, af­ford­able, safe and fun.

On Oct. 1, 45 girls between the ages of six and 12 and their par­ents showedu­patthePem­broke­andArea Com­mu­nity Cen­tre to en­rol in First Shift. The Ottawa Val­ley Thun­der league is the lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tor of the pro­gram which is of­fered by Cana­dian Tire in part­ner­ship with Bauer and Hockey Canada.

“It’s a good day for our or­ga­ni­za­tion,” said First Shift co-or­di­na­tor Dean DeRuiter. “Our goal is to get more girls in­ter­ested in hockey, our na­tional pas­time.”

For a regis­tra­tion fee of $199, the kids are kit­ted out from headto-toe in equip­ment in­clud­ing hel­mets, pads, skates, gloves and sticks. The pro­gram also in­cludes on-ice ses­sions that will cover a va­ri­ety of skills in­clud­ing skat­ing, puck han­dling, pass­ing and shoot­ing ex­er­cises, ba­sic mo­tor move­ment pat­terns and fun games.

Chang­ing de­mo­graph­ics and in­creased costs in hockey have re­sulted in years of de­clin­ing en­rol­ment in many mi­nor hockey leagues across Canada. First Shift aims to re­move any intimidation as it re­lates to equip­ment re­quire­ments, rules of the game, re­move po­ten­tial safety con­cerns pro­vide an ex­pe­ri­ence that is mem­o­rable and fun, ac­cord­ing to pro­gram ad­min­is­tra­tors. They also want to en­sure a pos­i­tive ex­pe­ri­ence for fam­i­lies that are new to hockey.

“As Cana­dian Tire, sport has been part of our DNA for 95 years and we un­der­stand the im­por­tant role that hockey plays in the life of Cana­di­ans,” said Rick John­son, owner of Cana­dian Tire Pem­broke. “Play­ing hockey is a great way for the kids to get ac­tive. Hockey ig­nites the shared pas­sion from coast-to-coast to help build strong com­mu­ni­ties by teach­ing you sports­man­ship, team work, ded­i­ca­tion and many other core val­ues needed through­out your life.”

Although hockey can be an ex­pen­sive un­der­tak­ing for par­ents, it is a sport that can res­onate with the kids well beyond their youth.

“When I played I made a lot of friends which will last a life­time,” said Ottawa Val­ley Thun­der coach Abbey McEwen, who is look­ing for­ward to pass­ing on many of the skills that she gained through the pro­gram.

SEAN CHASE/daily ob­server

Dan Hunt, with the Cana­dian Tire ‘First Shift’ pro­gram, fits a new player with a skate as 45 girls at­tend the ini­tia­tive's launch at the Pem­broke and Area Com­mu­nity Cen­tre. Ad­min­is­tered lo­cally by the Ottawa Val­ley Thun­der, First Shift is de­signed to make en­ter­ing hockey more ac­ces­si­ble, af­ford­able, safe, and fun.

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