When the first IIHF World Women's Championship was held in Ottawa back in 1990, approximately 11,000 Canadian females played hockey. Today, more than 85,000 participate in the sport. The growth in women’s hockey has been driven by hundreds of innovate programs and dedicated volunteers – many of them supported by RBC.
In the Ottawa area alone, dozens of RBC grants have enabled hockey volunteers to encourage young female players. In 2004, RBC awarded a grant to Ottawa-area hockey volunteers Craig and Janet Shouldice. The Shouldices, representing the Nepean Minor Hockey Association, used the grant to subsidize registration fees and send an Atom team to its very first out-of-province tournament. Nearly 10 years later, the Shouldices can still be found volunteering at their local rink most nights of the week.
Ron Baker, a grant recipient in 2008, is currently in his 41st year of coaching the Initiation group of the South Grenville Minor Hockey Association. Baker’s grant went towards training the next generation of coaches who will take over if he ever decides to hang up his skates. In his four decades on the ice, Baker has seen women’s hockey grow by leaps and bounds.
“Years ago I registered two girls using just their initials before girls were permitted to play on a boys’ team,” said Baker. “Over the years I’ve seen a great improvement in girl’s hockey. I had four girls come through my program in one year and all four ended up getting university scholarships.”
Most recently, RBC Play Hockey provided a $25,000 grant to the Renfrew Minor Hockey Association to ensure that all kids that want to play have the opportunity. The funds were used to create an equipment library and cover the cost of ice rental to eliminate any barriers for those trying hockey for the first time.
In addition to support at the community level, RBC is also a premier sponsor of Hockey Canada and the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, which has returned to Ottawa for the first time since the inaugural tournament.
“The IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship brings together the best hockey players from around the world,” said Jeff Boyd, regional president, RBC Royal Bank. “We are proud to support hockey at its highest level as well as at the community rinks where the next generation of Canadian gold medallists are lacing up for the first time.”
Not only does RBC provide financial support, but countless RBC employees volunteer as coaches, trainers, league administrators and team managers. Boyd noted that “our employees are the backbone of our hockey program and the hours they give to their communities every hockey season are what make this game and our commitment so great.”
To celebrate the game of hockey, RBC honoured a number of past grant recipients at the Canada-Finland game on April 5 at the world championship.