Melissa Walsh

Girls Enjoy Hockey's Great Adventure

Pointe Media | January 2014 | Grosse Pointe Magazine - January/February 2014

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Girls Enjoy Hockey’s Great Adventure By Melissa Walsh

Like boys, girls love adventure -- exploring new environments, learning new concepts and acquiring new skills. For little boys, the adventure of learning to play hockey has always been in a setting of making friends with other boys. Little girls could learn to play hockey, too. But until recently, the mix was few girls to many boys.

Now girls can join the adventure of hockey development with other girls.

“Everyone’s paying more attention to girls’ hockey now,” says Detroit Red Wings Equipment Manager Paul Boyer, who directs Michigan Ice Hawks (MIH) girls‘ hockey.

Boyer is also a strong supporter of the Michigan Girls Hockey League (MGHL), which has recently paved the way for developmental hockey options for girls of all ages, from the novice level to competitive “travel.” Both the Grosse Pointe Hockey Association and MIH are part of the rapid growth of girls’ hockey in Michigan. In this first USA Hockey-sanctioned season for the MGHL, Grosse Pointe’s two hockey clubs field two of the MGHL’s 12 U10 tier-3 teams and six of the 55 MGHL teams in all.

“Hockey is such a unique sport for girls,” says U10 Grosse Pointe Lady Bull Dogs Head Coach Sarah Post, “because it’s an excellent confidence builder. You start hockey and you can barely skate. But the girls see such improvement in their skills only after a few skates.”

“I find that girls develop hockey skills very fast,” says Boyer, adding that girls, more than the boys, will want to know the why behind a concept being taught.

It’s not girls’ hockey. It’s girls who play hockey, many of whom enjoy other activities, such as soccer and dance, says Mica Reardon, Lady Ice Hawks U10 Head Coach.

“The girls love being around each other. They’re becoming a little family,” Reardon adds.

“There’s a party in my locker room,” says Boyer. “Those girls can’t wait to come to the rink to see each other.”

Not only is the social side of hockey memories important to girls, but also the opportunity to be led by female coaches, who become significant role models.

Reardon says, “I think the girls just take [my direction] better and there’s a lot more excitement in that. And it’s nice having the dads out there on the ice supporting me.”

Boyer urges parents not to be afraid to sign their daughter up for hockey. It no longer has to be an all-consuming “travel hockey” commitment.

”There’s a place for everybody to play,” he says.