It’s really cool to see how much women’s hockey has grown in the last 10 years since we first made our debut as an Olympic sport back at the 1998 Games in Nagano. Back when I first started playing women’s college hockey in 1998, the sport was really starting to pick up steam in North America.
Ten years later, the best female hockey players in the world are starting to become household names here in Canada and in pockets of the United States (or as I like to call them, the “M” states – Minnesota, Michigan and Massachusetts). The sport is starting to gain more recognition world-wide, but there is still a lot of work to do on the player development side of things if we want there to be more parity in the female game anytime soon.
I don’t think the North American teams need to make any apologies for steam-rolling the competition at the Women’s World Hockey Championships over in Finland, but I can see how this might be a red-flag for organizers and supporters of the sport internationally who might be getting disheartened with their lack of progress over the last decade. Finland and Sweden have started to make a run at the perennial favorites from Canada and the US in the past few years, but it looks like the North American teams are poised to pull away from the pack yet again in this pre-Olympic year.
There are more women than ever playing hockey worldwide and there are many women who are doing everything they can to take women’s hockey to the next level of recognition and support.
I am very fortunate to have the opportunity to contribute to two projects in particular that are doing an amazing job of promoting the women’s game to players all over the world.
One is Ice Magazine, created by the dynamic mother-daughter duo of Charli and Yvonne Solis. If you haven’t seen the magazine yet, it is extremely professionally done and has articles about everything from how to choose the right equipment, how to train for hockey (written by yours truly) all the way to the challenges of returning to the game after having a baby (not going to find that in your traditional men’s hockey magazine).
Another terrific site is She Skates Hard which is run by Anne-Marie Campbell who is as passionate about the female game as anyone I know. She has created a tremendous on-line community for players and supporters of the game where we can share ideas, challenges and thoughts about how to make women’s hockey better for everyone involved in the sport.
Kudos to these amazing women and the many more out there that are doing all that they can to give women’s hockey the recognition we deserve on the world stage.
It’s going to be another great game between Canada and the US tomorrow and you can bet that everyone who is passionate about the female game will be watching. The next trick is to get the rest of the world to watch too.
Talk about Dreaming BIG!
What do you think needs to be done to take the coverage, support and profile of women’s hockey to the next level?
Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
~ Coach Kim