Girls’ hockey has come a long way since it first started in the early 1990’s. While pink tape and slogans such as “Chicks with Sticks” may always have a place in girls’ hockey, massive strides have been taken in both participation and player development. On Oct. 12-13, the entire world will celebrate those achievements and continue to build on them during the IIHF’s Girls’ Hockey Weekend.
The 2013 World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend marks the third year of an event dedicated towards keeping girls’ hockey on track as one of the fasting growing sports in the world. Last year, there were more than 300 events spanning 30 countries. Many of those events took place close to home as the United States (140) held more events than any other country and Minnesota hosted 13, which was more than the Czech Republic, Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland, and Russia.
Despite the success girls’ hockey has witnessed, girls’ participation still lags behind boys. To continue to improve the opportunities provided to young girls, it is critical for youth hockey associations to continue to make it a priority to increase the number of girls in their programs.
“As a state, we need to work on getting more girls into hockey,” says Doug Foster, a member of Minnesota Hockey’s Membership Development Committee. “It takes hard work and special events to do it.”
Girls’ Hockey Weekend presents the perfect opportunity for associations to introduce new girls and families to hockey in a fun and safe environment. Examples of events that have been held in the past include girls only, try hockey events and game or scrimmage sessions that highlight all of the teams in the program.
“Over the years, I have noticed that girls are social beings,” states Foster, USA Hockey’s Girls’/Women’s Representative for the Minnesota District. “They like to be around other girls. That is why events like these, which focus on getting the girls out on the ice by themselves, are the most successful.”
Off-ice events can also be effective in raising interest in hockey. Bring-a-friend events give girls’ hockey players a chance to interact with potential players while participating in other fun activities like floor hockey and picnics. These events may not lead to an immediate increase in registrations but are great ways to spark an interest in the game among new families.
Perhaps more important than the type of event or whether it is on or off the ice, is to remember that involving and interacting with the parents will play a critical role in each event’s success. Parents typically have the final say on what sports their child participates in so addressing any questions or misperceptions they may have can be the difference between adding a new player and missing an opportunity.
Associations interested in participating in Girls’ Hockey Weekend should register through USA Hockey. Registered sites will receive goodie bags and a list of guidelines to assist with their events.
Girls' Hockey Highlights