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February 1, 2023, marked the 37th annual National Girls & Women in Sports Day (NGWSD). This celebration inspires girls and women to play and be active, to realize their full power. The confidence, strength and character gained through sports participation are the very tools girls and women need to become strong leaders in sports and life.
Shared by Kendra Dixon
Today is National Girls and Women in Sports Day. I manage my women’s hockey team. The ladies on my team are so skilled that we play in the men’s league. Only our goalie is a guy. I have been playing hockey for longer than my teammates have been alive, but I am still the least strong player on my team, and it’s because I didn’t grow up with the same coaching and training that they have. It’s truly impressive how far girls and women’s hockey has come.
I didn’t start playing hockey until I was 14. It was the first year there was girl’s hockey in Williams Lake. After 2 years the girls teams folded and there were only 5 of us left who still wanted to play, so they put us onto boys teams. I was 17, but I was such a beginner that they put me in Pee Wee with the 11 and 12-year-old boys. It was great fun, and at the end of the year, I won the sportsmanship award for our whole division which had 10 teams.
In University I was one of the only women on an intramural hockey team and I played drop-in hockey every day at noon where I was usually the only woman. Well one day there was a new girl working at the sign-in desk and she told me that I couldn’t play because it was men’s drop-in hockey. I told her that I play every day and it wasn’t a problem. She wouldn’t let me in and told me that there was women’s ringette at a different time. I told her I don’t play sports that end in ‘ette’ (no offence to my friends who play ringette, I now know it is a great sport!) …
Anyways, she still wouldn’t let me in so I went outside and a guy rode up on his bike to go to the gym. I asked him if he would take my hockey bag inside for me and sign up for drop in hockey. He did and the girl asked me if I was just going to watch and I replied yes. Then I went through the doors with him, took my gear back, said thank you, and went and played hockey.
Women’s hockey has come such a long way since then and there are so many opportunities for girls now. The girls coming up from minor hockey are amazing players and I’m proud to be a witness to it.