Women eager to grab a stick and strap on skates

A new program in Smithers sees a big response from women who want to try hockey.

Hockey might not always be right up there in our faces but it’s always there in Canada. Smithers is not different.

At times it seems that our little ones are on skates before they can walk. Youngsters have plenty of chances to play and practise and there are opportunities all year long to do so.

The only place where we might not see the participation level that might be expected is in adult women. If we compare hockey to soccer where locally around twice as many women play as men, in the case of hockey, it looks like there is almost no participation.

Not so. There has tended to be just a few teams locally in recent years and Smithers Recreation has taken a steps to increase the participation amongst that group.

This September the department, along with Bulkley Valley Credit Union, has been able to come up with some ice time, equipment and coaches so that women will have a chance to try out Canada’s game on more than just a spectator basis.

Last Wednesday evening from 8-10 p.m. was the preliminary practice for the Introduction to Women’s Hockey workshop, and like many sports and recreation events in Smithers, the response was more than what was expected. Over 20 new women were on the ice to practise with coaches and assistants.

Equipment was one issue but all seemed to be ready for the session. Perhaps the biggest problem was stick length. According to one coach, some of the sticks were too short because they actually belonged to the player’s child. No problem, other sticks of around the right length were soon made available.

“The purpose is to try to teach women of any age that it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can learn how to play hockey. It’s our national sport and we want to be able to have everyone to be able to enjoy the sport. Everyone is welcome from very skilled to beginners,” said Mega Frederick, one of the volunteer coaches with the program.

Saskatchewan native Frederick started to play when she was 29 and has continued since then.

“It’s about the camaraderie of the sport and the enjoyment of the sport,” she said.

Last year, there were two teams from Smithers that played on the regional level and it is hoped that the community can support three teams this year.

“We’ve done very well in all of the tournaments we have entered. Prince George and Prince Rupert have good teams. It’s kind of like David and Goliath in a way,” she said.

According to Frederick, one of the main purposes of the camp is learning how to skate for hockey.

“Some have limited ability there. We will break up into groups of different levels. We’ll learn about breakout plays, passing, shooting, try to give them some exposure to the entire sport,” she said.

The coaches involved were busy with their charges at the practice as there was a very broad range of ability and experience. One young assistant was on hand to demonstrate how skills and drills should be performed properly.

Those interested can contact kalahooker@hotmail.com. There will be two more sessions: Sept. 19 and 26 from 8-10 p.m.

sports@interior-news.com

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