The call is going out to young hockey players around the Red Deer area but there is a twist of sorts. You need to be a female.
Lee Deary, a director with Red Deer Minor Hockey also oversees female hockey from novice to midget AAA.
He says a rough estimate of girls playing hockey within the association is 125 which includes girls who are playing on predominately male teams.
In addition, there are about 80 girls who lace of the skates to play pond hockey in the City, said Deary.
“Our goal is to continue to provide girls with options to play hockey.”
Deary says he’d like to see the number grow to a point where they are having trouble finding ice time for all the female hockey teams in the Association.
He says pond hockey is the perfect venue for young girls to give the game a shot but the girls are then mixed into teams with boys.
He would like to see that changed to make the game more attractive and accessible to female hockey players.
“You talk to Hayley Wickenheiser, Cheryl Pounder and Cassie Campbell (national team players) and they will all tell you they were the only girls on their teams and had to change in the ref’s room or the broom closet,” he said. ” So we want to create an environment where the girls feel comfortable and want to play.”
Deary says there are so many options for young girls when it comes to sports these days hockey needs to step up its game in order to compete.
He says there is work underway to bring in all female teams into the more competitive minor hockey association under one league which covers a lot of Central Alberta and thus the need to recruit more players to stock those teams.
This move to grow the sport for the girls starts with the novice age players and Deary says in the past the novice skaters were all lumped together – boys and girls – but that’s going to change.
“So if we want the next Hayley Wickenheiser for example, we need those girls coming out to try the game. We want them to experience the game and keep playing,” he said.
“But they’re not just going to come to us. We need to be proactive and go out and get them.”
The next registration for minor hockey is near the end of this month and there will also be a skills camp in the winter with the RDC Queens hockey team lending a hand to run the camp.