Like mother, like daughters.
Mom Carrie Joerissen knows exactly what Taylor, 10, and Halle, 8, were experiencing when they laced up their skates Sunday, Oct. 2 for World Girls’ Hockey Day – fun.
That’s because after seeing how much her girls enjoy playing Canada’s favourite pastime, Carrie just couldn’t resist giving it a try herself.
“I figured, if I can’t beat ’em, I might as well join ’em,” Carrie said with a chuckle, as she sat in the stands of the international arena at the WinSport Canada Ice and Athletic Complex, watching Halle stickhandle around bright orange pylons with a smile on her face, as part of the Atom and Novice on-ice session held in Calgary, Alta., during the inaugural World Girls’ Hockey Day. “ I haven’t looked back.”
Joerissen, and fellow rink rat Suzanne May, participated in Hockey Canada’s adult women’s Girls’ Night Out learn to play program last season in Calgary, and just like they’re daughters, they’re now both hooked on hockey.
“It’s just part of our family,” said Suzanne, whose seven-year-old daughter plays with Halle on the newly named Novice girls’ team the Jellybeans, of Girls Hockey Calgary. “This is Chelsey’s first year playing with all girls, and she’s just so pumped.”
Just as it is for Suzanne and Carrie as adults, who now play recreational women’s hockey on the Babes with Blades and the Chicks with Sticks, for their young daughters, joining an all-female hockey team is not just about the sport itself.
“They’re learning so many life skills,” Suzanne said. “They’re learning how to get along with others, how to collaborate, to cheer each other on, to motivate each other – it’s awesome.”
“For girls, I think it’s so important, not only to have friends in school, but to have friends outside of school,” she added. “Hopefully, they turn into life-long friendships.”
From fun to friendship, the two women are well-aware of the many benefits team sport can bring, and were quick to sign their daughters up for the activities taking place in Calgary as part of this year’s World Girls’ Hockey Day, the first-ever event held simultaneously in cities across the globe to celebrate the female game.
It’s one of several initiatives being taken by the International Ice Hockey Federation to help develop women’s hockey at the grassroots level, and subsequently increase competition of the sport around the world.
For more information on the more than 150 events that thousands of girls participated in on four continents and in 20 different countries, CLICK HERE.
“It’s important to help grow the game at all levels,” Trina Radcliffe, manager of female development for Hockey Canada, said between periods of an exhibition game between the high school girls’ team from Warner Hockey School and the new Alberta franchise of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, also part of Calgary’s festivities. “We have activities taking place, right from watching games and celebrating the game, to recruitment activities and OneGoal Try Hockey Days.”
Non-profit organization OneGoal stepped forward to fund events across the country on World Girls’ Hockey Day to give girls who are new to the game the chance to get on the ice and give it a try. “We’re hosting five events this year, (in) Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Ontario, Manitoba and Alberta,” Radcliffe said. “They’ve provided equipment, jerseys (and) sticks, so all the kids have to do is bring their skates and come out to learn the basic skills of hockey.”
In Calgary, activities included both on-ice skills sessions for female Atom, Novice and Peewee players; off-ice team building activities that had the giggles of little girls echoing throughout the new WinSport Canada arena; Hockey Canada’s Experience a Dream program to give young girls the chance to warm-up with elite female players and intermission mini-games held during the Alberta-Warner game.
“We did a lot of skills and drills,” first-year Peewee Taylor said of being a part of the very first World Girls’ Hockey Day, adding, " off the ice, we did a lot of games on trust, like having to guide your friends through pucks.”
Taylor’s little sister, second-year Novice Halle, said she loves being with her friends on the ice, and backwards skating, “because it’s fun.”
And fun , of course, is what it all comes back to.
“If we had an opportunity when we were their age to play, that would have been great,” Carrie said with a laugh. “I mean look how far women’s hockey has come in the last decade!”
From moms to daughters, coaches to volunteers and female hockey fans in the stands (who on October 2 happened to include Team Canada alumnae Cassie Campbell-Pascall and Danielle Goyette), Radcliffe said World Girls’ Hockey Day is a fantastic opportunity for everyone involved to celebrate both what they get from, and what they give back to, the game they love. “That’s what today is all about.”
“Whether you’ve played before or you haven’t played before, if you’re five years old or you’re 50 years old, there’s an opportunity for you to get into the game,” Radcliffe said. And just as women’s hockey itself continues to grow, “hopefully, next year this event will continue to grow.”