“Who Said Hockey Isn’t for Girls?”
By Meg Goss, Hockey Mom, Founder of "Wisconsin Hockey Moms" on Facebook
I am the mother of three hockey players, two boys and yes, one girl. I never played hockey, neither did my husband. We liked going to games and watching it on T.V. but never did we think we would have a daughter who plays hockey, let alone two boys that play. Hockey became an integral part of our daily lives in 2005 and since then, we haven’t looked back. In the process, we learned that not only is hockey a great sport for boys but also an outstanding sport for girls.
Our daughter, Mary, got introduced to hockey at the age of four when my oldest son was playing hockey at the Mite level (the little guys). Mary, tagged along to watch his games. She would ask both her father and me, “When do I get to play?” I admit I knew some girls who played hockey but didn’t think “my girl” would play hockey. These hockey girls came from hockey families--their dads, uncles, and even grandpas played. I mistakenly thought hockey was just for boys. In response to Mary's repeated requests to play hockey, we signed her up for figure skating classes. I bet you can see where this is going …
She liked the classes but insisted she wear hockey skates instead of the standard figure skates. Since she was just learning to skate, it was fine with her teacher that she wear hockey skates. However, about half-way through the skating classes, she said, “I don’t want to take skating classes, I want to learn to play hockey.” My husband and I finally agreed she could give it a try and signed her up for the “Learn to Skate, Learn to Play” program through our hockey club. This way she would get to wear hockey skates and hockey gear, use a hockey stick and puck, and play cross-ice games. My husband, however, said, “I give her two weeks” before he thought she would want to quit. That was in 2007.
Today, Mary, now 11 years old, is one heck of a skilled hockey player. Until this year, she played on a team with mostly boys. She decided to move to a girls’ team this past season. It’s a myth that the girls aren’t as fast and aren’t as skilled as the boys. Mary and her team, the DC Diamonds, are truly amazing hockey players. They play “good” hockey even at the young ages of 11 and 12. Her team has a winning record and is going to the WAHA State Championship (U12 competition) in Wisconsin next week (WAHA = Wisconsin Amateur Hockey Association).
Mary's favorite position is playing defense but her coach has been moving her to forward lately. While she is comfortable in the defense position, at her age it is important to learn all the positions.
Hockey has taught Mary a lot about life in the six seasons she’s been playing: time management, discipline (on and off the ice), respect for her peers, respect for authority (coaches, refs and the like), and how to stay physically fit. She’s traveled all over our state and has been to about every ice arena in Wisconsin. Most importantly, she’s met other wonderful girls and boys and has built friendships that will last her a lifetime.
One of the highlights of Mary’s hockey experience is that she has gotten to meet and train with Olympic goalie, Jessie Vetter. Jessie is a member of the U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team and is from Wisconsin also.
Will Mary keep playing hockey as she gets older and into high school? I hope so. Will she play in college? I have no idea, that’s a ways off. I will say this: Mary is focused and determined. Her coaches always tell us how much they admire her tenacity. She never gives up and isn’t afraid to work hard for her goals. All I know, is if she wants it, she’ll achieve it. We tell her the important thing is for her to keep having fun. As long as she enjoys it, then she will continue playing.
One final note: according to USA Hockey statistics, there are more than 65,000 registered female players in the United States currently. In 1992-93, there were only about 10,000 registered female players. That is enormous growth in ten years. Today, the opportunities for girls to play hockey are endless, at least in our part of the country.
As a hockey mom, I've learned an important lesson. It's important that we parents don’t write-off certain opportunities in sports as boy’s-only. My girl will show any boy that hockey is not just for the guys. She’s “pretty tough!”