It’s not the normal group of hockey players he instructs nor is it the regular time he hits the ice for practice, but Steve O’Rourke was out there just the same.
The Rebels assistant coach was at the Dawe Arena for 10 p.m. to run a group of ladies through the paces at their first practice.
“One of our guys in the front office got a call about this and they looked at me and said it was probably something I’d want to do,” he said. “With my background of a ton of hockey schools and different things like that, I’ve actually worked with the female program in the past. It kind of fit. I’m in.”
The players range from having not skated on anything other than figure skates to some ringette players, but O’Rourke says while they might be good skaters it is a different element in chasing a puck around instead of a ring.
His years as a coach at various levels paid off in a small way at the start of the practice in an unusual manner.
“No one mentioned I had to brings pucks,” he said. “So with a little coaching experience, I went straight to the Zamboni guy. He’s always got pucks.”
O’Rourke says it’s a part of being with the Rebels organization to take on tasks like this within the community.
“Our kids are always involved in things from D.A.R.E. programs to school reading to anything that comes across to sports orientated – we’re always involved and welcoming people to invite us out.”
Becky Jardine, the organizer behind this push for women’s hockey, was delighted to see a member of the Rebels’ team out on the ice with them.
“I just went in and said this is what I’m trying to get started, would you let somebody come,” she said about approaching the Rebels. “I didn’t realize they were actually going to send me a coach, which is perfect.”
O’Rourke said he had a little bit of a template to work from heading into this practice but he expected he might have to wing it at some point as well.
“You don’t know what the levels are going to be, the enthusiasm and everything,” he said. “Essentially it’s always the foundation of the basics, the passing, the skating and the receiving. This is just going to be fun and anytime I’m doing something with hockey it’s good.”
The women meet Mondays at the Dawe for 21 sessions over the winter.