Girls’ hockey is one of the sport’s growing segments, but there are always those who’ve never played and would like to do so. Providing them with that chance is precisely the reason for the Woolwich Wild’s annual Come and Try Girls’ Hockey event.
It’s an opportunity for girls between the ages of 4 and 12 (by Dec. 31, 2018) to come out and get a feel for the sport.
“It’s giving them that chance to actually try it and you know kind of confirm that that is what they want to do,” said Jacinta Faries, one of the organizers. “Sometimes you’ve heard of something, but until you try it you don’t really know if you are going to enjoy it or not. I find that just watching the girls as they come out most of them are really happy that they have come and they have enjoyed it.”
During the session, the girls will do some skating and hockey drills to start and will finish up with a scrimmage game for fun. And there to answer any questions parents may have will be Woolwich Wild representatives.
“We divide them up into different groups based on their skill level and then have stations where they do different drills to work on their skating or with their stick on the puck. Near the end of the ice time, we do little scrimmages so they get the sense of what a hockey game might be like,” she explained, noting they get a wide range of skating ability, and make sure to divide them up so that everyone has fun. “Most of them want to try what it is really like to play a game, so the scrimmage is fun for that.”
First held in 2011, the Come and Try Girls Hockey event has been held every year since, with 28 girls attending last year.
In addition to being a scheduler, local league liaison and on the Wild executive since 2009, Faries was able to see firsthand the benefits of playing with the Wild through her daughter’s time in the sport. After growing up with her three older brothers playing, Faries daughter wanted to try it herself and ended up playing in Woolwich from novice all the way through to midget. The choice to go with girls’ hockey from the start didn’t come without a debate, however.
“We kind of debated well which should we put her in, but from a dressing room and friend perspective it’s so nice because all of the girls are together and you know they chat they get to know each other really well. I think they have just as much fun in the dressing room as they do on the ice,” she said. “They grow up being friends – I’ve watched my daughter, the friends she made in novice she is still friends with today.”
Her daughter’s experience and enthusiasm is shared by current novice players, who have their reasons to play.
“Just having fun,” said Leah Thompson, who is finishing up her second year on the team.
McKenzie Rank, also a second-year Wild player, said she likes “that I get to skate with my friends.”
And as veteran Wild Addison Gunn explained, “I like to play and help win hockey.”
Participants are asked to bring a CSA-approved helmet and face mask, skates, stick and gloves – or really good winter gloves to protect fingers. However, if you do not have any of those items on hand Faries says not to fret: if you reach out to her she can help find equipment.
Come and Try Girls Hockey will be happening on April 15 at 4 p.m. at the Woolwich Memorial Centre in Elmira, with the girls heading onto the ice at 4:30 p.m.