Rundle Women’s Hockey League: 2024 Game Changers Winner

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Introducing Rundle Women’s Hockey League, a winner of the 2024 Game Changers Campaign. They built their league out of passion and determinization to share the sport they love.

What inspired the creation of the Rundle Women’s Hockey League in 2019, and how has it grown over the years? 

The inspiration for the Rundle Women’s Hockey League (RWHL) came from the growing interest and participation in the monthly Banff versus Canmore hockey games. In the spring of 2019, 40 women showed up to play in the final monthly game at the Fenlands Arena in Banff, which highlighted the need for an organized league. This led to the official formation of the league, starting with four teams—two from Banff and two from Canmore. The league was named after Mount Rundle, symbolizing both the division and connection between the two communities. 

Since its inception, the league has thrived, even during the COVID-19 pandemic. By the 2022-23 season, the league expanded from four teams to six, demonstrating its resilience and growth. The team names—Jills, Shrews, Minks, Vixens, Luna Wolves, and Nanny Goats—reflect the unique female animals found in the Rocky Mountains. 

How do you accommodate players of all skill levels, from beginners to those with a lot of experience? 

Teams are built around their goaltenders, as they vary so greatly in skills and experience. A new goalie needs both strong defence and goal scorers, while a stronger experienced goalie can have less experienced defence in front of them and fewer goal scorers.  

On our registration form, we have skill level categories that players use to self-rate. They are very detailed questions, differentiating five levels of skill and experience. Additionally, each season we keep stats to understand who goal scorers and play makers are, and of course we watch a lot of the games and get to know the players, their style and what their strengths are. We then take all this intel and create the teams that can compete against each other with a similar distribution of all skill and levels of experience.  

Can you share a memorable moment or success story from your league that highlights its impact on participants? 

There are so many incredible moments over the past four seasons. It is incredible and rewarding to watch adult women try something new and excel. One highlight from this past season happened when unfortunately a goaltender was injured three weeks before the end of the regular season. The league brought in a new goalie from the waitlist, who was new to hockey. The team, originally built to support a new goalie, rallied around her, provided encouragement, and stepped up their defence. This team ultimately won the playoff tournament, showcasing the league’s team creation strategy and the positive impact on the new goalie’s confidence. 

What are your future goals for the Rundle Women’s Hockey League?

The future goals for the RWHL include growing from six to eight teams, while maintaining the league’s inclusive spirit. The league aims to ensure that all those who identify as women of all ages and skill levels, including those just starting out or those who are 65 years old, feel welcome and safe. By continuing to uphold its values of inclusion, safety, and community, the league aspires to foster a supportive and competitive environment for all participants. 

What strategies do you use to encourage women to join the league, especially those who are new to hockey? 

We don’t really employ any strategies, as word of mouth and existing player referrals have been our strongest communication tool. We intentionally always include our league vision in any type if social media or written communication, which helps new recruits see themselves in the league.  

Our vision is: A place for women to learn a new sport or continue on with a lifelong passion. A community driven league that is both competitive and just for fun.   

What advice would you give to others looking to start a grassroots women’s hockey league in their community? 

You must embrace the full spectrum of skill and experience and find a way to distribute it in a way that makes games fun and competitive. You need to hold true to upholding the vision and code of conduct and continuously communicate it to your league members to build a culture that transcends your registration form. Buy in from the whole group is essential in a physical, fast paced sport that has such a wide breadth of experience. 

The Rundle Women’s Hockey League has been a passion project for us. It has not been easy, and it is a significant time commitment to execute our framework, but it is worth it. We have created a community where women belong, can make mistakes, grow, excel and experience achievement in sport. It’s much bigger than just hockey.   

Check out these stories from our members:

Valerie’s Story

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Heather’s Story

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Amy’s Story

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