Are you a girl who loves lacing up her skates, picking up her stick and stepping onto the ice with your team? Are you a woman who wants to encourage players to be the best they can be from behind the bench? Or are you a female who wants to fly up and down the rink donning black and white stripes with a whistle in hand?
Whether you’re an aspiring player, coach or referee, there are plenty of ways for girls and women to get into the great Canadian game at the 2012 National Women’s Under-18 Championship in Dawson Creek, B.C., where the puck drops Nov. 7-11.
Development activities encouraging female participation in Canada’s favourite pastime are being hosted in partnership by Hockey Canada, BC Hockey, the Dawson Creek Minor Hockey Association and the City of Dawson Creek, and will give local women’s hockey enthusiasts – whether young or old, rookie or veteran – the chance to learn from some of the very best women’s hockey talent from across the nation.
The fun includes a series of minor hockey evenings taking place during the tournament's preliminary round from Wednesday, Nov. 7 through Friday, Nov. 9. The opening evening Nov. 7 offers a coaching clinic hosted by Hockey Manitoba director of development Bernie Reichardt, who has been involved in the sport for over two decades at the provincial, national and international levels. He will hold an hour-long session on the ice and an hour-long session off the ice 6-8 p.m. at Kin Arena.
A hot stove session set for 6-7 p.m. at the Kenn Borek Aquatic Centre highlights the Nov. 8 schedule, with a panel featuring select provincial and national under-18 coaches, along with special guest Melody Davidson, current head scout for Hockey Canada’s women’s national teams and a three-time Olympic gold medallist as a former coach with Canada’s National Women’s Team, including twice as head coach at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, and the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, B.C. All aspiring coaches in attendance at the hot stove will receive free admission to Thursday's 7 p.m. feature game between defending gold medallists Ontario Red and host team British Columbia.
A mentorship program for female officials is scheduled for 6-7 p.m. Nov. 9, also at the Kenn Borek Aquatic Centre. The evening features presentations from Hockey Canada officials with national and international experience, which will surely serve as inspiration for girls and women interested in learning the ropes of refereeing. All aspiring officials in attendance will receive free admission to Friday's 7 p.m. face-off between Team Atlantic and host team British Columbia.
To register for any of these programs for coaches and officials, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call the City of Dawson Creek’s recreation office at (250) 784-3604.
For young girls who love to play the game, minor hockey programs such as Experience a Dream, McDonald’s in the Line-up, Esso Puck Drop and intermission mini-games give minor hockey players the chance to rub shoulders – and perhaps even share a puck or two on the ice – with the elite players competing at the 2012 National Women’s Under-18 Championship.
“These are great opportunities for young females to hear from high performance athletes and role models,” said Kevin Bathurst, manager of schools programs for Hockey Canada. “Programs like these create a special connection for the participants.”
Indeed, a lucky handful of Peewee level female players will have the chance to “experience a dream” of playing at a national championship by participating in off- and on-ice warm-ups with competing teams and standing on the blue line for the national anthem during the semifinal and medal matches Saturday, Nov. 10 and Sunday, Nov. 11, respectively. The young hockey stars will also receive two complimentary tickets to the game.
“It's one thing to see these athletes on the ice,” Bathurst said. “But to see them face to face and look in their eyes while they're speaking, it creates an unforgettable experience.”
For more information on how to get involved in Esso Puck Drop, McDonald’s In The Line-Up, Experience a Dream or intermission mini-games, please contact Bathurst by emailing email@example.com.
Another way for passionate local players to get involved in this year’s national championship is by coming out to Minor Hockey Night at the EnCana Events Centre for the evening game Nov. 8, when any player who shows off their spirit by wearing their team jersey will be admitted for free if accompanied by a paid ticket holder.
Hockey Canada marketing services and events manager Ryan Robins said hosting the National Women’s Under-18 Championship will give young female players in Dawson Creek and across British Columbia solid hockey goals to strive for and strong hockey heroines to admire.
“These will be the names you hear talked about as part of our national program in a few years’ time,” Robins said of the accomplished athletes taking to the ice next week in Dawson Creek. “It's such a unique opportunity for these young players to establish role models.”
Don't miss the chance to learn from successful players, coaches and officials who have all left long-lasting impressions on Canadian female hockey, and dare to dream yourself about coaching girls to gold, calling the shots in the midst of an exciting match-up – or even stepping onto the ice in a battle for bragging rights at a national championship.