In­tro­duc­tion to hockey for girls scores big in­ter­est

New ini­tia­tive of Clare-Digby mi­nor hockey sys­tem ben­e­fit­ted from Mar­itime NHL’ers for Kids

Tri-County Vanguard - - SPORTS - ERIC BOURQUE THECOURIER.CA

A new pro­gram of the ClareDigby Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion that’s in­tro­duc­ing girls to hockey has been a hit and will go longer than ini­tially planned.

The pro­gram, which is be­ing held at the Digby arena, be­gan in Oc­to­ber with one-hour ses­sions on Mon­day nights and it was orig­i­nally sched­uled to end Nov. 26. The de­ci­sion has been made to keep it go­ing – with a ses­sion ev­ery other week – un­til the end of Feb­ru­ary.

Or­ga­niz­ers had ex­pected about 15 par­tic­i­pants but ended up get­ting 23.

See­ing that the fe­male hockey par­tic­i­pa­tion rate in its area was con­sid­er­ably lower than some other com­pa­ra­ble ru­ral ar­eas – in New­found­land, for ex­am­ple – the Clare-Digby as­so­ci­a­tion wanted to es­tab­lish a pro­gram that would in­tro­duce girls to the sport, says Josée Soucie, fe­male co-or­di­na­tor with the CDMHA.

The as­so­ci­a­tion was able to launch the new pro­gram with a grant from Hockey Nova Sco­tia, which cov­ered var­i­ous ex­penses – most im­por­tantly ice times – and the hope had been to use money from the grant to pur­chase hockey equip­ment for pro­gram par­tic­i­pants to use.

Hockey can be a pretty ex­pen­sive sport, Soucie notes, es­pe­cially for some­one who isn’t sure they will like the sport. Through the Hockey Nova Sco­tia grant, the new pro­gram only would have been able to pro­vide gear for about seven par­tic­i­pants, she said.

For­tu­nately, the CDMHA had re­ceived 25 sets of hockey gear re­cently from the Na­tional Hockey League Play­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, a do­na­tion fa­cil­i­tated by Mar­itime NHL’ers for Kids, a non-profit or­ga­ni­za­tion that tries to en­sure boys and girls are not de­nied a chance to play mi­nor hockey for fi­nan­cial rea­sons.

(Mar­itime NHL’ers for Kids held its 19th an­nual fundrais­ing event in Digby this past July.)

The CDMHA agreed to al­lot gear from the NHL’ers for Kids do­na­tion to girls want­ing to take part in the new fe­male pro­gram.

“The only cri­te­ria was that they must never have played or­ga­nized hockey be­fore,” Soucie said. “And so, all these girls have never played hockey (be­fore) and would likely have not tried it ex­cept for this pro­gram. The thing is, it can be in­tim­i­dat­ing for girls to go onto the ice and be out­num­bered by boys. And Girls be­tween the ages of five and 13 have been tak­ing part in a new pro­gram de­signed for those who have never played or­ga­nized hockey be­fore. Ses­sions are held at the Digby arena.

boys and girls learn dif­fer­ently ... So (this pro­gram) is just kind of a more con­ducive en­vi­ron­ment to how they learn.”

Par­tic­i­pants can keep us­ing the do­nated hockey gear as long as they keep play­ing, she said. If they de­cide not to play any­more, they can re­turn

the equip­ment and some­one else will get to use it.

Soucie said three pro­gram par­tic­i­pants had reg­is­tered to play mi­nor hockey in the Clare-Digby sys­tem.

Girls tak­ing part in the new pro­gram range from five to 13, al­though the idea ini­tially had been for the age range to be from five to 10.

“We have two 11-year-olds and one 13-year-old,” Soucie said, adding she didn’t want any­one turned away be­cause of their age. Be­sides, she said, re­gard­less of how old they are, “they’re all just start­ing out.”

And they seem to be en­joy­ing them­selves and do­ing well, she said.

“The girls are hav­ing fun and their progress is re­mark­able,” she said. “Also of note, none of this would be pos­si­ble with­out the ded­i­ca­tion of our nu­mer­ous vol­un­teers on and off the ice.”

Thanks to the do­na­tion of equip­ment through Mar­itime NHL’ers for Kids, money that ini­tially had been bud­geted for hockey gear will go to­wards ice time, en­abling the pro­gram to go longer than the orig­i­nal six-week time­frame, al­though the ses­sions will now be ev­ery two weeks in­stead of ev­ery week, with a break for the hol­i­days.

CON­TRIB­UTED

The Digby arena has been the site of a new in­tro­duc­tory hockey pro­gram for girls, an ini­tia­tive of the Clare-Digby Mi­nor Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion.

CON­TRIB­UTED

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