It’s difficult to speak in terms of numbers when it comes to women’s hockey prior to the 1990s.
There weren’t many records being recorded or totals being tallied when it came to the female game.
Fast forward two decades later, and 85,624 seems to be a good piece of numerical data to begin with. That’s how many girls were registered in hockey programs across the country at the start of the 2010-11 season.
And that’s a resounding increase from the 8,146 total girls in 1990, the year the first-ever IIHF Women’s World Championship was hosted in Ottawa, Ont.
This surge has inspired girls and women of all backgrounds to lace up their skates, which keeps passionate promoters and supporters of the sport, such as Hockey Canada’s manager of female development Trina Radcliffe, very busy indeed.
Radcliffe has been a driving force in developing in female hockey programs over the years, and will continue encouraging girls to get into the game this April in Charlottetown, P.E.I., leading up to and during the 2012 Esso Cup, Canada’s National Female Midget Championship.
The more than a dozen development programs being offered will be available to females of all ages, and will give new players the chance to find out exactly what hockey has to offer, from the skills on the ice to the values instilled off the ice.
“My role prior to the event is to work with Hockey P.E.I. and the local host committee to implement development programs to create awareness in all areas of the game,” Radcliffe said of her role leading up to this year’s Esso Cup, which takes place April 22-28 at the CARI Complex.
In addition to skills camps for minor hockey levels ranging from Atom to Bantam, Radcliffe will lead the We Are Coaches clinic for females looking to step behind the bench, as well as officiating development activities for young referees.
“During the event, I will be assisting the local host committee in carrying out all of the development programs,” Radcliffe added. “I will work with the volunteers on the on-ice curriculum for the skills camps and Esso Fun Days.”
The Esso Fun Day program will offer two separate dates – one for adults and the other for youth. The program introduces the basic skills of the game in a positive and supportive environment.
Throughout the Esso Cup week, there will also be several chances for young girls who love the game to step onto the ice during the national championship games, including puck drops, intermission mini games and the McDonald’s In The Line Up program which brings minor hockey players out as flag bearers during pre-game ceremonies.
Radcliffe is also coordinating a program that will bring the Midget girls participating in the Esso Cup into local schools, to chat about the positive aspects of participating in sports such as hockey, from active living to team work.
One of the more unique programs that this year’s Esso Cup will offer minor hockey players is Experience A Dream, which will give six girls from the Charlottetown area the chance to be welcomed onto the participating teams as honorary members, joining their older mentors for a game during both off- and on-ice warm-ups, as well as on the blue line while the national anthem is being played.
Radcliffe is obviously passionate about the benefits of these development programs, but is also quick to emphasize the gracious efforts of countless volunteers who make them happen across the country.
“Our events and development programs cannot run successfully without the help of our volunteers,” she said. “They do so much for the programs.”