Female hockey players are often over-looked, forgotten about and even non-existent when it comes to watching sports. Yet Canada’s national women’s hockey team has more Olympic wins and higher scoring averages than the men’s program, leaving many to wonder, “why the snub?”
Women’s hockey is a fast growing sport, with lots of new players joining the sport each year. With more girls’ hockey organizations forming each year, more girls are wanting to try the sport in an environment without the sceptical eyes of male players, and the negative stigma that surrounds girls playing on boys teams.
Michelle Anger, who has played the sport on a competitive level for 11 years believes that girls have the same drive and determination to succeed as boys do.
“If anything, we have to work harder to prove ourselves as hockey players,” says Anger. “Just because we’re girls doesn’t mean we can’t do the same things guys do; we use the same strengths and muscles.”
Although boys’ teams sometimes don’t value girls’ teams as real competition, each year the female leagues get a little more competitive, a little more aggressive and a little more talented, showing that girls hockey is just as fierce as boys – just without the hitting.
Brantford Midget AA Ice Cats coach, John Edgar, feels “size and strength” are the only difference in the genders. When hitting is removed, however, the game changes.
“My team beat a boys’ team a few years ago,” says Anger. “But we took out hitting, though as teams get older, the guys get bigger and heavier, and injuries become an issue.”
It is slowly becoming accepted that girls hockey is a viable organization, but there will always be skeptics.
“It’s mostly ignorance,” says Edgar. “Most people are unaware of the talent level girls have. Generally, people are more involved with boys because they think they’re better.”
Anger agrees: “Boys for sure think girls can’t play hockey. It’s stereotypical but they definitely make fun of you.”
Even with the people who believe that women’s hockey isn’t worth watching, it is still a quickly progressing sport. After the years of success the Canadian women’s hockey team has had, more and more girls are showing interest in learning the trades of the sport. With the growth of each organization, clubs are beginning to invest in outside professionals to advance not only the players skill, but the coaching ability as well.
“When I started playing, you would play the same team multiple times, but now there are more teams in varying cities giving a lot of options for opponents,” says Anger. “Tournaments are becoming bigger every year. I think the success is increasing each year. Eventually, I believe, that women’s hockey will be recognized as much as [mens’].”
“Boys’ hockey is stuck in a status quo, giving more interest put on girl’s hockey,” Edgar says. “The growth is fast resulting in both more successful teams and players. Eventually everyone will know the talent showcased in girls leagues.”
With plenty more years for girls to get interested and begin to play, the leagues will become more full, competitive teams will become harder to make, and stands will begin to fill. There is nothing that doesn’t show women’s hockey becoming a more popular and publicized sport.