I remember the day I first found out about ice hockey. I was 5-years-old and I had just gotten out of my swimming practice. My dad was loading up the car when he turned around and said, “Sweetie, I know you really love swimming, but your mom and I decided to have you play ice hockey instead.” I looked up at him and stubbornly said, “Dad, no way, girls can’t play ice hockey!” He told me I was wrong and took me to the skate shop to buy my first pair of skates. I definitely threw a tantrum. One way or another, a week later he managed to get me decked out in full gear and push me onto the ice. I’m fairly certain I spent half of that practice lying on my face.
Thirteen years later and I can honestly say that not quitting hockey was the best decision I ever made. It’s been something that has shaped who I am today. I wear dresses and put on makeup and do “girly” things. But I also tie my hair back, lace up my skates, put my helmet on and play hard. When I tell people I play ice hockey, the normal response I get is “Yeah, but you don’t really play ice hockey, right?” Sometimes people even go as far as to ask if I mean that I figure skate. No, no, I don’t mean I figure skate. I mean that I wear full padding, put a stick in my hand and I play ice hockey. The primary shock that people have when I tell them about it is annoying, but also a little bit priceless. It makes me feel impressive and a little bit cool.
Women’s ice hockey is just like any other youth sport’s league, it’s just not as popular as most. As a little kid there is nothing better than running around and being active. Hitting the ice for the first time is intimidating, but once you get the hang of it, it becomes a great sport. Being on a team is an incredible experience. You’ll almost never have a better bonding experience than on a hockey team. Singing, dancing, cheering and getting pumped before a game or practice is one of my favorite parts of playing hockey. As a little girl, hockey helped me make friends for life and be able to put myself out there to meet people.
The biggest factor of playing hockey that made me who I am today is hockey taught me to be mentally and physically tough. The difference between guys’ hockey and girls’ hockey is when you watch a guys’ game, it feels like you’re watching a boxing match. But with girl’s hockey it is more skillful, more about controlling the puck instead of beating each other up. But don’t get me wrong, just because girls aren’t supposed to check, doesn’t mean they don’t. They just try harder not to get caught. One of the best parts of hockey is to release anger and get a good workout in, girls’ ice hockey can be just as physical as the guys’.
I encourage every girl to try out ice hockey. It will change your life and make you that much stronger. It builds confidence and character, while offering girls a way to kick butt. It’s definitely worth looking into. It’s a good way to get out your comfort zone and try something new.