She shoots, she scores: ladies’s hockey has come a good distance in 30 years

CENTRE WELLINGTON – Addyson Martin and Briar Decker have been doused with water after their final sport of the season with the Guelph Boys U13 AAA hockey group.

Final sport of the season – and final time taking part in with the boys.

“We misplaced our final sport,” stated coach James Prigione of the March 25 sport.  “However we performed it like a send-off for the ladies.

“I had them within the beginning lineup and allow them to play the final minute and a half. I feel it meant rather a lot to the boys, too.

“They showered the ladies with water bottles. It was a celebration of how completely satisfied they’re for the ladies. It introduced a tear to my eye.”

It’s not distinctive anymore for ladies to play hockey, and even to play on a boys’ group.

However Martin and Decker have been taking part in on the boys AAA group for 4 years.

Subsequent 12 months, because the age stage advances, there may be contact. And there may even be change room points.

So the ladies, who each have Olympic goals, must transfer over to the ladies’ hockey stream.

“It’s been enjoyable,” Decker stated of taking part in with boys. “They’re totally different. They push fairly arduous.”

“I received a number of good teaching and growth and made a number of buddies,” added Martin.

“Everybody right here has been supportive. I by no means had something dangerous occur.”

Decker is 13 and lives in Grand Valley.

She began taking part in home league hockey when she was 5 on a group that had a mixture of ladies and boys.

She was good. And after three years of home league, her dad took her to AAA tryouts in Guelph and she or he made the group.

Martin is 12 and lives in Elora. She began skating when she was two and joined home league at 4. 

She performed for the Grand River Mustangs ladies group for a 12 months, then switched to the Centre Wellington Fusion A boys group.

Martin tried out for the Guelph AAA group, made the lower, and by no means seemed again.

“I really like hockey,” she stated. “As quickly as I am going on the ice, every little thing else disappears.

“It’s enjoyable, I work arduous, and I prefer to compete. I feel it’s a sooner sport with the boys.”

Tales like this make Sheila Keane’s coronary heart heat.

She is the coach of the Mustangs’ growth group – also called the choose group – and she or he’s seen many ladies work their means by way of choose and go on to rep groups at both the A or BB stage.

Briar Decker and Addyson Martin, proper, confer throughout their final sport with the Guelph boys U13 AAA group on March 25. Submitted picture


Keane, who grew up in Elora and nonetheless lives there, is now 47.

However when she was 10, she joined ringette as a result of there was no hockey for ladies within the space.

“I might have performed on a boys’ group I suppose,” she stated in an interview.

“I didn’t know any ladies that did although.”

Ringette will not be simpler than hockey, she stated, and over her time taking part in the sport, guidelines have been added and adjusted to make the sport extra aggressive and difficult.

And he or she discovered wonderful skating abilities with ringette, which served her nicely as she transitioned to hockey on a leisure group as an grownup.

When she attended the College of Guelph within the Nineteen Nineties, Cassie Campbell was a pupil and star participant of the Gryphons hockey group. 

Campbell went on to be one of many first gamers on Canada’s first Olympic ladies’s hockey group, profitable a silver in 1998, and gold medals in 2002 and 2006.

“That’s after I actually began watching ladies’s hockey,” Keane stated. 

“And that’s when ladies’s hockey actually took off.”

In line with Hockey Canada’s web site, there have been simply shy of 8,000 ladies taking part in on 557 registered groups in Ontario in 1993. 

By 2003 that had jumped to 31,000 gamers in feminine leagues in Ontario.

And by the 2019-20 season, greater than 50,000 ladies have been registered to play hockey, representing 21 per cent of all hockey registrations in Ontario.

The Grand River Mustangs, the house of ladies’ hockey within the Centre Wellington space, shaped in 2005 and has grown its home, choose and rep groups, each in numbers and the calibre of gamers.

Keane stated there are lots of ladies who play on boys’ groups and there’s no cause to not. Hockey is hockey in spite of everything, and there’s not a lot distinction when youngsters are on the ice.

“However it’s the change room factor,” Keane stated. “They’re in there for half-an-hour and that’s when a number of essential stuff occurs.

“That’s the place the friendships kind.”

Keane stated she provided her two daughters hockey or ringette as they have been rising up and so they each opted for hockey.

“They noticed me taking part in hockey and each wished hockey. That’s gratifying,” she stated.

“However to educate my daughters, to be with them on the bench – that’s the most effective expertise you’ll be able to have.”

In a comply with up electronic mail, Keane famous it takes a village to construct a hockey league.

“An enormous a part of the success of ladies’ hockey has been the quantity of volunteers on the board and training,” she stated.

“We now have so many teaching, particularly fathers of the gamers who performed excessive stage hockey and who’ve helped in participant growth. 

“I can’t consider how a lot the ability stage has progressed in ladies’ hockey through the years,” she continued.

“And I hope these gamers grow to be a number of the future coaches of their daughters, which is what we’re beginning to see now.”

With their final season with the boys behind them, Decker and Martin need to the longer term. 

Decker stated she’s making an attempt out for a ladies’ U15 AA group in Mississauga.

Martin hopes to get a spot on a ladies’ U15 AA group in Waterloo.

It’s not a step backwards, Decker stated.

“The chance to go to ladies’ hockey is we’ll be scouted extra,” she stated.

“I’m fairly excited to play with ladies and a brand new coach.”

Essentially the most refreshing a part of this story is that neither Decker nor Martin confronted discrimination. 

They didn’t must battle a gender battle to get on a group.

And so they don’t must battle a gender battle to advance their abilities and even discover a profession in hockey.

Their battles might be on the ice, as with all hockey participant.

“It’s bittersweet that that is their final season with the boys,” stated Addyson’s mom Kendra Martin. 

“They’d such an ideal expertise.”