Recognizing girls hockey
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.