Lynn Tulloch can truly be considered the First Lady of female hockey in Saskatchewan.
Among her many accomplishments as a leader within the province’s female hockey community, Tulloch was most recently instrumental in bringing the 2010 Esso Cup to Regina. As a result of her efforts, she is now serving as chair of the host committee this year for Canada’s National Female Midget Championship.
Between squeezing in Esso Cup meetings, volunteering for the host Regina Rebels and watching her daughter Kelsey play varsity hockey for the University of Saskatchewan Huskies, Tulloch took time out of her busy schedule to talk with hockeycanada.ca about what the growth of the female game means to her.
What does the Esso Cup mean to female hockey in Saskatchewan?
“It's the culmination of two decades of tremendous growth and interest in female hockey in Saskatchewan. Twenty years ago, girls played on boys teams, if they played hockey at all. Now we have all-female teams, all-female leagues and a National Female Midget Championship modelled after the TELUS Cup!”
Why are you so passionate about female hockey?
“My daughter started playing hockey when she was six and having the ability to play on all-female teams made all the difference to her and hockey quickly became her passion.”
“Over the years, I watched her develop so much as an individual and she reaped the benefits of sport. Hockey kept her fit and healthy and aware of how to look after her body, hockey has given her dozens of lifelong friends (and) it has helped her learn to set goals and work hard to achieve them.”
“She has also learned how important working effectively with others as a team is to achieving those goals. Perhaps most importantly, through all the years, hockey was always fun to her and this is a credit to the many coaches she had over the years who created the kind of positive environment that she and her teammates could thrive in.”
“Hockey has been a huge part of the confident and successful young woman she has become and pursuing hockey beyond Grade 12 along with her education became a primary objective for her. I believe strongly that everyone should pursue their education beyond Grade 12 and hockey opens many doors for this in a wide array of universities and colleges across Canada and the United States.”
“Watching what she got out of hockey is what created the passion I have. I got involved as a volunteer to help do what I could to ensure that many other girls got the opportunities and benefits I saw my daughter getting from participating in the game of hockey.”
How has your family benefitted from female hockey?
“Hmmmmmm, a busy, busy life (laugh)! Being able to go out and support each other, (because) hockey is a spectator sport.”
“For children especially, having your parents and family in the stands cheering you on and supporting you two to three times a week at games is important. In some other activities, like dancing, that occur mostly behind closed doors, you don't have this opportunity for continual involvement.”
“Being so busy also helps you focus on what’s important – spending an hour talking to your child on the way to an out-of-town practice or game beats folding laundry or cleaning the house any day. Some of the best conversations with my kids occurred in the car coming and going from hockey.”
“And the busy nature of hockey families means you have to be organized and I've seen that my daughter has picked up on this skill. She now balances a full slate of university classes, daily practices with her university hockey team, weekend road trips (and) games, coaching a Midget girls’ team and volunteering on the Husky Athletic Council. Where the heck did she learn that (laugh)?”
How would you describe the dedication your family has shown to female hockey in Regina?
“Well, I guess we've all enjoyed it and pitched in along the way. My three nieces, all the same age as my daughter, all played in the Hockey Regina Inc. (HRI) female system as well.”
“My sister-in-law Merilee has helped out with managing teams and running the annual female tournament, while my brother-in-law Ross has coached his twin girls, Kyla and Robyn, for many years.”
My husband Neil also took a break from coaching the boys and helped out as a coach on Kelsey's team (for) one year as well.”
“For me, my involvement just kept evolving. I started out managing teams, then let my name stand to get on the HRI board, but only if I could serve as a female director. Myself and Jim Leskun quickly created the HRI Female Committee as a way of getting more people involved in organizing and overseeing the female teams and leagues.”
“About the same time, the competitive side of female hockey was also growing and when my daughter was a first-year Midget, I chaired the Western Shield that our Midget provincial AA team was host for. Then, the following year, we tried out establishing a 'travelling' Midget AA team which we named the Rebels and then 'boom' – the very next year the female Midget AAA league was established (in Saskatchewan) and the Rebels became the Regina-based club. It was amazing how fast the progression occurred.”
“I became the chair of the Rebels’ management council and have stayed involved and worked with the team and HRI to ensure the program continues to grow and be successful, which I think it has!”
“Not having a daughter on the team makes it easier for me to take a leadership role with the club. Too often, being a volunteer with a child in the program creates difficult perceptions, especially in hockey.”
“Being an independent volunteer (with no player on the team) creates additional strength and credibility for our program and I hope more people stay involved in sports after their own children are done to help with this aspect.”