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From me to you, highlighting challenges faced by girls

Dear Daughters, I Can’t Believe The Change in Women’s Hockey

Dear Daughters,

As the women’s hockey competition comes to an end today at the Sochi Olympics I think back to less than 30 years ago when I first took to the ice to play this fantastic sport. It was during the winter of 1985 and I was 10 years old. I was the only girl on my team. My friend, who was also 10 years old, was the only girl on her team. From what I remember, we were the only two girls playing hockey in Cole Harbour at that time. I remember playing a team from Cape Breton in a tournament that same season or next and they had one girl on their team. I played hockey in Cole Harbour at the Atom and PeeWee levels. By the time I got to the PeeWee level there were now 5 girls around my age playing. There may have been 3 girls playing at the younger levels by now which made about 8 girls in total. No girls played hockey at the Bantam level in Cole Harbour back then as this was when body checking was introduced and we were told girls were not allowed to play with body checking. By the time I was second year Midget age I was allowed to play hockey again. Keep in mind that I was now 17 years old and the boys all had three years of playing hockey with body checking under their belts. 2 of the other girls returned to play at the Midget level as well. and we were all on the same team that year. I think there were 3 girls playing at the younger levels. It was the 1991/1992 season and in Cole Harbour there were only about 6 girls playing hockey.

Last night, after you, youngest dear daughter, finished your skating lesson at Cole Harbour Place there was a PeeWee age hockey game. It was Sackville vs Cole Harbour and on both teams all of the players were girls! The fact that there are now all-girls hockey leagues is no longer a surprise to me but everytime I see them playing I cannot believe my eyes. Only 23 seasons ago, there were only 6 girls in total playing hockey in Cole Harbour at different age groups. This was not enough for one team, let alone an entire league!

I went on to play hockey in University but when we represented our school at the Atlantic University Championships, we wore the men’s old jerseys with their name bars still on them! Now the women’s University teams have their own jerseys complete with matching socks, helmets, gloves and pants! There are junior high and high school girls’ teams. Women’s hockey is everywhere and continuing to grow.

In Sochi, Switzerland’s women’s team just won their first ever Olympic medal. They beat Sweden 4-3 in the Bronze medal game. Canada and the United States of America face off for the Gold medal this afternoon. Women’s hockey was introduced as an Olympic sport in 1998, and the Americans took the inaugural Gold medal. In 2002, 2006 and 2010, the Canadians won gold. Hayley Wickeheiser and Jayna Hefford of Team Canada are the only players to have played in all 4 Olympics who will be playing this afternoon.

My first full season of hockey in Cole Harbour 1985-1986

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