Perhaps the visceral aspect of ice hockey, both female and male, involves the painful reality that the cost makes participation out of reach for a large collection of youngsters. While so many of these wishful players have the dream of competing professionally or in the Winter Games, the bigger dream is just having the possibility to play.
Working towards fulfilling such dreams, enabling and empowering such, disadvantaged youth a chance to realize the opportunity to grace the ice is a former elite competitor currently based on the Pacific Coast. Having played with the Vancouver Griffins, where she was one of the youngest players in the original NWHL, along with a stint for Team British Columbia at the 1999 Canada Winter Games, Danielle Grundys career continued outside of her home province.
Suiting up with the Dartmouth Big Green at the Ivy League level, where Grundy appeared in over 125 games, this was followed by a professional playing career with Langenthal in Switzerland. In returning home from Europe, the goal of giving back to the game was of strong focus, as she remained devoted to the game and its growth in a unique capacity.
Establishing Grundy’s Grind, a hockey camp aimed at female competitors, it evolved into a labor of love, spanning six years. During this time, she also balanced duties in her role as the Head Female Development Coach for the Kelowna Minor Hockey Association. The motivation also included a personal element, as her parents had to place a second mortgage on their home in order to support her playing ambitions as a teenager.
With equal parts passion and perseverance, Grundy, who also works in real estate, is devoted to allowing young females an opportunity to share in her love of the game, by gaining the chance to play. As Grundy’s Grind would prove to be the foundation towards developing the Grindstone Award Foundation, extending the concept, while expanding its impact, the key goal is to create opportunities for potential players through charitable donations, while raising self-esteem and fostering encouragement.
Of note, the Foundation works towards issuing bursaries in the amount of $500 for one season for female players under the age of 19 throughout Canada. Perhaps the unique aspect is that the selection goes beyond athletic ability, instead, the focus is on financial need and the desire to continue their goal of competing.
I guess you can say that the Grindstone Foundation is a further iteration of what I had started with Grundy’s Grind. The foundation of Grundy’s Grind was really to help grow the game and pass on knowledge I had acquired over the years of playing a high level of hockey.
Now, the Grindstone Award Foundation’s mission is also to help grow the game – but just in a different way, and hopefully in a larger and more impactful scale.
Joining Grundy on this remarkable journey of athletic encouragement is co-founder Sasha Podolchak, a former attendee of Grundys Grind. Her influence and shared enthusiasm was also a key catalyst in making Grindstone an essential reality for the future of so many aspiring players in the Pacific and the rest of Canada.
The collaboration between the two heralded the arrival of Grindstone, shaping the games future for many who otherwise would not have enjoyed the opportunity. In reflecting on the growth of this wonderful initiative, Podolchak discusses how there was perfect synergy between the two, focused on a collaborative effort that has yielded positive results,
I first met Danielle while learning to play hockey at a skills camp she created called Grundy’s Grind. We became friends quickly. I admired her passion for the game of hockey. A couple of years later, I came to her with an idea of starting a hockey charity that would empower women in hockey.
Specifically, girls who wanted to play but could not afford to. I knew Danielle would be the person who could make this idea a successful reality. Danielle was on board immediately, and wanted to give girls the opportunities she had in hockey growing up.
Together, we put the plan into action and called it the Grindstone Award Foundation. A name that exemplifies hard work, passion, and dedication. A name also after Grundy’s camps. We became a registered Canadian charity soon after, and we are both so excited to see this idea grow into what it is becoming today!
For Podolchak, the rewards are reciprocal. Along with a very gracious Grundy, the two have emerged as very admirable Hockey Humanitarians, both enjoying the results. Joining them on the Grindstone team by the likes of Alison Rasmussen and Elina Briezkalne, eager to
My favorite part is really hard to pinpoint. I have so many, but I think working with so many of our friends and our community to make this charity and this women’s tournament a reality, has been one of my favorites. Of course, when I see the girls we have sponsored on the ice and having fun, and I am told they are making friends and loving playing hockey, it really is the best gift. That alone is the reason I do this.
Among the aspects that have helped to define the Grindstone Award Foundation, its hallmark may very well be their inaugural three-day Womens Hockey Jamboree. With the goal of raising enough fund to triple the grants allocated for female players in the coming season, the eight-team event will take place from July 21 to 23 at Royal LePage Place in West Kelowna, B.C.
Such an event is one that Grundy approaches with anticipation, optimistic that its results shall bear the gratifying fruit. Undoubtedly, the goal to succeed is one that brings with it profound hope, subsequently adding new meaning to their generous endeavors.
It would mean the world to us. There have been a few of us that have worked extremely hard over the past year to get the Grindstone Award Foundation off the ground. Having a successful charity weekend would is a culmination of all of that hard work and dedication. Most of all, having created the opportunity to impact a players life afterwards with one of our grants will be the most amazing thing.
While the tournaments origins emanate from a gathering with concepts casually discussed, Podolchak discusses its substance. With a combination of both youth and adult tournaments, the financial objective is to raise a minimum of $5000, which can support 10 female youth hockey players. There is also a bigger goal, which is to incorporate elements of enjoyment that are unique to such a tournament.
From the outset, the jamboree format is one where players register as individuals but teams then become mixed, with players of all ages and abilities together. In addition, there will be a skills competition on the second day, sponsored by Sport Chek, along with a Girls Rock the Rink Event, where girls aged 5-18 can try the game for the first time, plus a pub fundraiser highlighted by a silent auction.
“The idea for the tournament in July came from one of our many brainstorming sessions. We wanted to do a really fun annual event that would involve our community, our youth, and our sponsors, people we had not met yet, and create a way to reach our goal of funding more recipients each year. What better way than a charity tournament! We were extremely excited right away.
By holding adult and youth events the same weekend, and a charity dinner at the XChange restaurant, I believe we have managed to find something that everyone can participate in that weekend. It will bring everyone together and help us raise enough to sponsor more girls enabling them to get on the ice. I hope everyone will have a blast together enjoying hockey, friends and the Okanagan summer while supporting a cause that means a lot to us both.”
Signs that Grindstone is truly making an impact are evident through the reach of its impact. Featured on the iconic Hockey Night in Canada broadcast on their Chevys Power of Play segment, it was a watershed moment that raised awareness of such an important cause, while allowing viewers an empathic opportunity to appreciate the unified efforts of both Grundy and Podolchak.
“It is truly humbling to have been chosen to be featured by HNIC. It is a huge honor and I can’t thank Sportsnet, Chevrolet and HNIC for this opportunity as it has really helped propel the Grindstone Award Foundation forward.”
Another important show of solidarity involves the support of Jaclyn Hawkins, a former collegiate and professional competitor, whose hockey resume also includes being the founder and president of Womens Hockey Life. With the goal of her venture to allow players, fans and coaches a forum to share their insights on the game, and spotlight people that would otherwise not gain such opportunity, the feeling of friendship and belonging is among Hawkins core values.
They embody everything that we are striving to accomplish. They are helping grow the game and keeping girls in the game through the grants they provide. It was a no-brainer.
In years past, Hawkins has commendably organized Try Hockey for Free events in her adopted state of Connecticut. Equally dedicated to the mission of Grindstone, admiring its approach to resourcefulness and compassion, this group of strong women personify the essence of teamwork. For Grundy, such remarkable displays of support indicate a significant, and positive, step forward.
“The same goes for our newfound partnership with Women’s Hockey Life, Jacyln and her team’s support, will allow us to share our message and ultimately help more families that need it. There are few of us in the space of female hockey and I am really looking forward to growing and helping one another succeed.
All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated
For more information, please visit: www.grindstoneaward.com
To like the Grindstone Award Foundation on Facebook, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/grindstoneawardfoundation/