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Bring-a-friend event looks to boost girls’ hockey

Women’s hockey has enjoyed a considerable upswing in the past two decades. It is estimated that, across Canada, 80,000 girls now play Canada’s official winter sport – 10 times the number of players in 1990.

Women are achieving recognition at the highest levels of hockey as well. Back in November, the venerable Hockey Hall of Fame inducted the first female members in its 77-year history – U.S.A. national team captain Cammi Granato, and Canadian hockey star Angela James. Much of that growth can certainly be attributed to the introduction of women’s hockey at the Olympics starting in Nagano in 1998.

THE MORE THE MERRIER The Woolwich Wild have organized a day for girls aged 4-11 to come out and try girls hockey for the first time in St. Jacobs on Mar. 27. Among those now enjoying the sport are (back) Brianna Fleming, Holly Faries, Larissa Musselman, Maggie Sargent and (front) Annie Sargent, Annabel Musselman.

Girls’ hockey has enjoyed growth in Waterloo Region as well, says Jacinta Faries, team manager for the Atom Local League girls’ team in Woolwich and a member of the Wild executive.

She wants to open the sport up to even more girls, though, which is why she has helped to organize “Bring a friend to girls hockey,” a day for young girls aged 4-11 to come out to the arena in St. Jacobs on Mar. 27 to try hockey for the first time.

“(Girls’ hockey) is definitely growing,” she said. “Our numbers grow year after year, and I think we’re directing this day more towards the younger kids. Some of the other girls’ hockey associations that are in our local league offer similar programs, so we thought we’d give it a try.”

Starting at 4 p.m. parents are invited to bring their daughters to the arena to try hockey for the first time. At 4:30, coaches and trainers from the Woolwich Wild will be conducting an hour of on-ice drills and skating seminars, and will finish up with a friendly exhibition game.

“We want to give more girls the chance to give hockey a try,” said Faries. “This way it gives them a chance to go and try it one time and to give their parents a better idea of whether they think their child will enjoy it.”

The skaters are required to have skates, a CSA-approved helmet and face mask, a stick and gloves. For anyone who doesn’t have this equipment, there will be spare gear available.

“We didn’t want anybody to feel that they couldn’t try it because they don’t have what they need,” explained Faries.

One concern that often arises with new players and their parents is the physical nature of the sport, but Faries said that there is no checking allowed in girls’ hockey, which comes as a relief to most. Even her nine-year-old daughter Holly was concerned by the body contact in boys’ hockey, but once she explained there was no contact, Holly was much more comfortable.

There will be handouts with information on the registration and fees for next years season, and Faries also said that there will be members of the executive present to answer any questions parents might have, in particular parents who have never played hockey themselves or have not had another child play.

The event is free. For more information, contact Jacinta Faries at (519) 669-8625.

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