While most minor hockey teams are finishing up their seasons, the Woolwich Wild are already busy recruiting players for the fall.
An annual occurrence, the Come and Try Girls Hockey event held next month introduces interested girls to the sport and allows them to meet girls who are already playing it.
Woolwich Wild scheduler Jacinta Faries says roughly a dozen girls came out last year and many of them decided then and there to give hockey a go for the following season.
“I would say most of them really enjoyed the experience, liked being out there, and quite a few of them signed up with us too,” Faries said.
The 2014/2015 season was the first time Woolwich Wild hit the 200-mark for registration and it gradually grows every year.
Each girl who attends the event will need skates, a stick, a helmet, and hockey gloves. But if they don’t have some of those they can get them from Faries, or one of the other organizers, Dan McIntyre.
“If they call us if they don’t have some of the equipment then we’ll see what we can do. We just need to know in advance so we make sure we have something the right size,” Faries said.
She says it’s important for them to continue to make hockey accessible for girls because it’s no longer a boys’ sport, and one that’s growing.
“There’s a lot of interest out there at every age, all the way from the 4-year-old girls that are coming out and even up to women. We have lots of people that are interested more and more. And you see women’s hockey more and more at the university level, Team Canada, that kind of thing. And I think there are places for girls to go now. Once they’re done minor hockey there’s more pickup hockey for women available than there ever was before,” Faries said.She notes that hockey’s a sport that girls can start when they’re young and play throughout their life, as a good way to exercise and form friendships.
Girls who attend the Come and Try Girls Hockey event will start with some basic skating drills and then try hockey drills to get a feel for the stick and puck. They’ll play a scrimmage game at the end, splitting the ice in half between the younger and the older girls, so the young ones don’t get intimidated.
“They get a taste for the game that way,” Faries said.
Aside from the stereotype of hockey as a boys sport, another barrier Faries sees keeping girls from playing hockey is the idea that it’s a rough sport.
“You see the body checking that goes on, say on TV when you’re watching NHL hockey or you see older boys hockey. For the girls there’s no body checking allowed. Some people are not aware that there’s those kinds of rules in place. It can be intimidating from a physical perspective, but in girls’ and women’s hockey there’s no body checking, so once people realize that it becomes less intimidating,” Faries said.
She adds they try to make girls hockey more affordable by pricing their rookie program around the same as a learn to skate program. This way they’ll be getting those skating skills, but also learning hockey at the same time.
And seeing how kids often try a whole whack of different activities before realizing they don’t actually enjoy them all, this opportunity through the Woolwich Wild will let them, and their parents, see if they actually want to pursue it.
“For this event it’s getting young girls out to try it. Come out and try it and see what you think, without all the expense,” Faries said.
Come and Try Girls Hockey runs Apr. 3 at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira at 1 p.m., with participants on the ice at 1:30 p.m. Any girls between 4 and 12 years old (by Dec. 31, 2016) interested in giving hockey a try are encouraged to come out. If you need equipment contact Faries at email@example.com or 519-669-8625 or McIntyre at firstname.lastname@example.org or 226-338-3434.