If you’re reading this, you are a female hockey player. You are strong. You are confident. You are important, and you are the future.
As a proud parent and coach, I can honestly say there is nothing quite like women’s hockey. I remember a few years back when my daughter was probably 10. I had recently read something about how important it was for dads to stay connected to their daughters and to give them compliments from time to time. We were walking in the backyard on a sunny afternoon and I think I forced something totally awkward like, “Honey — you are a beautiful young girl and have very pretty hair.”
I’ll never forget the look of total disgust on my daughter’s face when she matter-of-factly replied, “Dad — if you’re going to compliment me, I’d prefer you stick to academics or athletics.”
You see, my daughter was already a hockey player, just like you. And girls who play hockey put the “self” in self-confidence by forming strong relationships and learning invaluable life skills. Girl hockey players are Katniss Everdeen heroes-in-the-making; they’ve just swapped the bow for blades.
Why are you special? Because you play a game that is beautiful, fast and physical. You’ve learned uncommon lessons. You’re comfortable protecting your goalie, cranking explicit hip-hop in the locker room (sorry parents) and sacrificing yourself to block a shot for the greater good. Your curriculum has been more slap shot and slash than sugar and spice. You are hockey players in every sense of the word, who also just happen to be girls.
You’ve seen the progress. You’ve experienced the change. Here in Minnesota, the level of talent and caliber of women’s hockey is off the charts. That’s why Minnesota regularly produces D-I and D-III studs, as well as Olympians.
But while women represent a whopping 23 percent of the over 50,000 hockey players enrolled through USA Hockey here in Minnesota, only a paltry 4 percent (388 total in 2013-14) of our registered coaches are women! Many an association has had high hopes to attract female non-parent coaches for their youth and high school teams. It’s an extremely tough brief to fill.
This needs to change, and we need your help to do it.
Make no mistake — it won’t be easy. You’ll be busy starting your careers, maybe even starting a family. But here’s the deal: We need you.
As USA Hockey National Coach-in-Chief Mike MacMillan said, “It’s time for the females who play this great game to step up. You see a handful of female college and high school coaches out there, but we need more. If they don’t step up, who are the young girls going to look up to? Who will be their female mentors?”
It’s no longer acceptable to be filling all of these youth and high school coaching positions with a bunch of overzealous dads. Sure, we’d be happy to buy some water bottles and a whistle, but it’s your time now. Because the next great leap in women’s hockey will only happen when the present generation of female hockey players steps behind the bench to lead the next.
And here’s a little secret: You’re going to love it. Heck, you might even love it more than playing. Just remember to compliment the girls on their hair from time to time.
Their hockey hair, that is.