Rec­og­niz­ing girls hockey

The Victoria Standard - - Sports - JEN­NIFER RI­P­LEY

For the sev­enth year in a row, World Girls Hockey Week­end is giv­ing girls the boost they need to play the sport they love.

Hockey Canada and the In­ter­na­tional Ice Hockey Fed­er­a­tion spon­sor the an­nual event where com­mu­ni­ties around the world cel­e­brate fe­male par­tic­i­pa­tion in hockey. Ni­cole Ma­clen­nan took on the task of or­ga­niz­ing an event for Bad­deck.

"I hope to get the girls mo­ti­vated," says Ma­clen­nan, who wants the hockey year to start on a pos­i­tive note.

On October 6, 22 girls, fam­ily mem­bers and com­mu­nity sup­port­ers gath­ered to en­cour­age fe­male par­tic­i­pa­tion in the sport. The Bad­deck event started at the Vic­to­ria High­land Civic Cen­tre and par­tic­i­pants ran/walked down Wa­ter Street and back up Che­bucto Street where they ended at the Vis­i­tor In­for­ma­tion Cen­tre. Tim Hor­ton's do­nated drinks and hockey cards, and the RCMP pro­vided an es­cort for the group through town. The group then headed to Wong's Fam­ily Restau­rant, who pro­vided a free meal to the girls. Bad­deck Li­brary of­fered a pub­lic screen­ing of "The Mighty Ducks" in honour of Girls World Hockey Day, and the team ended their ex­cit­ing day by re­lax­ing at the li­brary and en­joy­ing pop­corn and drinks pro­vided by Bad­deck Mi­nor Hockey. Ma­clen­nan is grate­ful for all the sup­port from lo­cal busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Ma­clen­nan her­self comes from a hockey fam­ily. She played co-ed hockey up un­til Ban­tam level be­fore mov­ing to the Ban­tam and Mid­get Bad­deck/why­co­co­magh girls team. Ma­clen­nan's two daugh­ters play in Bad­deck/ Why­co­co­magh Mi­nor Hockey. Her play­ing ex­pe­ri­ence was so pos­i­tive that she hopes the girls that are cur­rently reg­is­tered con­tinue play­ing the sport.

Holly Macin­nis, owner of the Bad­deck and Why­co­co­magh Tim Hor­tons, has played her share of girls and women's hockey. When asked about the ben­e­fits of girls hockey, Macin­nis doesn't hes­i­tate.

"They take con­fi­dence and keep it for the rest of their lives," says Macin­nis. "Con­fi­dence trans­lates not only into sports, but also in school and work."

There are cur­rently 31 girls reg­is­tered in co-ed Bad­deck/why­co­co­magh Mi­nor Hockey. While co-ed hockey has long been a re­al­ity, op­tions for girls to play the sport all but end when con­tact hockey be­gins. Un­less there are girls teams for play­ers to tran­si­tion to, most stop play­ing.

Macin­nis, who played hockey at St. Mary's Univer­sity, notes the role that vol­un­teers play in girls hockey.

"It does de­pend on com­mu­nity in­volve­ment. I was for­tu­nate to have a girls team and ex­cel­lent coaches."

In 2005, Marvin Cook coached a Bad­deck Mid­get Girls hockey team for two sea­sons. With over 18 years ex­pe­ri­ence coach­ing boys hockey, Cook was skep­ti­cal when he made the switch to coach­ing girls. He was pleas­antly sur­prised.

"It was the most fun I ever had," says Cook. "[The girls] had more fun and ap­pre­ci­ated it more."

In Cook's opin­ion, many of the girls he coached could have gone on to play hockey at higher lev­els. Jes­sica Wong continued and has had a suc­cess­ful ca­reer as a pro­fes­sional player. Wong cur­rently plays for the Kun­lun Red Star, a Chi­nese ex­pan­sion team that is part of the Cana­dian Women's Hockey League (CWHL).

"Some of my fond­est mem­o­ries are the years I spent play­ing with my sis­ter, cousins and clos­est friends. This was an awe­some time in my life," said Wong via a text on October 6.

Emma Ma­caskill (left) sup­ports her two younger sis­ters’ love of hockey. Ni­cole Fabian-kenny (cen­tre) walks with team mas­cot, Sammy (right). Photo by Carolyn Barber.

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