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From me to you, highlighting challenges faced by girls

Dear Daughters, Pink Helped Propel Popularity of Women’s Hockey

Dear Daughters,

They say you learn something new everyday. Today I learned something new about the colour pink. Pink helped propel the popularity of women’s hockey.

I remember watching the first ever Women’s World Hockey Championships, which were held in Ottawa, Canada in 1990. Instead of wearing red and white, Team Canada wore pink and white. The zamboni driver even wore a pink flamingo suit while cleaning the ice. I loved the hockey, hated the uniforms. Now that I know why they wore pink, I LOVE the uniforms.

In a three minute clip on TSN (you can watch it on tsn.ca, it is called WWHC: Pretty in Pink) the reasoning behind the pink uniforms is revealed and we find out how those 1990 World Championships inspired two members of today’s Team Canada Women’s Hockey Team, Jayna Hefford and Caroline Ouellette.

Back in 1990, Murray Costello was President of Hockey Canada and he says that they were having trouble getting enough publicity to promote the Women’s World Hockey Championship. Someone who worked in the office suggested pink uniforms. Murray says his initial reaction was that they would get killed if they did that. The man who suggested it agreed but suggested they would also get some attention. So “out of sheer frustration and desperation”, they did it. The Canadian women wore pink and white. And it worked!

Geraldine Heaney was a member of Team Canada in 1990. She says that at the first team practice in Ottawa there were a lot of members of the media in attendance. The players all assumed they were there to ask them what it feels like to play in the first Women’s World Hockey Championships. Instead, the first question the players were asked was what they thought of the uniforms. The media’s fixation on the uniforms worked though. Suddenly everyone knew that there was a women’s hockey event going on in Ottawa.

Team Canada won the first Women’s World Hockey Championships and the next seven after that. You, eldest dear daughter, were in attendance when Canada beat the USA 2-0 to win their 8th straight gold medal at the 2004 World Championship games when they were hosted by Dartmouth/Halifax, Nova Scotia ! Canada will be playing their opening game of the 15th World Championships vs the USA, tomorrow night at 7:30pm Eastern Standard Time. You can find the complete schedule on tsn.ca. Fittingly, the Championships are being hosted by Ottawa, Ontario, Canada – the site of the historic 1990 Championships.

No other teams other than Canada and the US have won gold at the Women’s World Hockey Championships. Canada won in 1990, 1992, 1994, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2004, 2007, and 2012. The US won in 2005, 2008, 2009, 2011. The final game has always been a Canada/US showdown.

Two members of the Canadian team playing in the 15th World Championships were inspired by the members of the 1990 Canadian Team. Caroline Ouellette says that girls who played hockey when she was young were considered outcasts. They were playing a game that was traditionally reserved for boys. She is right. In 1990 there were only 8, 146 girls and women registered to play hockey. I was one of them. There were no female only hockey teams then so the majority of my teammates were boys.

This year there are 86,675 girls and women registered to play hockey. I am one of them. There are now female only teams and even female only leagues. I now play in a female only league. As Caroline Ouellette says, “Now it’s cool for girls to play hockey.”

The rise in popularity of women’s hockey can be attributed to the 1990 Team Canada Women’s Hockey Team. Their pink uniforms got them the publicity but their talent earned them the respect and dedication of their fans and inspired a whole new generation of women hockey players. Caroline Ouellette says it was while watching them play that she realized  she could actually dream about playing hockey for her country. Jayna Hefford echoes her teammate’s sentiments. Watching Team Canada play in 1990 she realized, “This was legit. This was something I could aspire to.”

Now young female hockey players will be watching Caroline Ouellette, Jayna Hefford and the rest of the 2013 Canadian Women’s hockey team knowing the same things. This is legit. This is something they can aspire to. They can dream of playing hockey for their country.

 

 

 

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