By Jenelyn Russo
Special to AnaheimDucks.com
Last weekend the Ducks welcomed more than 40 participants to The Rinks – Huntington Beach Inline and The Rinks – Lakewood ICE for programs offered in conjunction with the International Ice Hockey Federation’s (IIHF) World Girls Ice Hockey Weekend.
As a part of IIHF’s global awareness campaign, girls were given the chance to participate in one-hour free sessions for street, inline and ice hockey. Instructors from The Rinks, along with coaches and players from the Anaheim Lady Ducks hockey club, were on hand to work with the girls.
Participants were provided full sets of equipment, including skates, jerseys and sticks, and were introduced to basic hockey skills such as skating, stick handling and puck movement. For many of the girls, it was their first time trying the sport.
|“Our goal is to expose more girls to hockey by trying to give them that first positive experience around other girls,” says Director of the Anaheim Lady Ducks, Kathy McGarrigle. |
“Our goal is to expose more girls to hockey by trying to give them that first positive experience around other girls,” says Director of the Anaheim Lady Ducks, Kathy McGarrigle.
McGarrigle noted that according to USA Hockey, participation in the girls and women section across the country has seen a 36% overall increase from the 2004-05 season to the 2014-15 season, including a 56.9% increase in the 8U division.
Comparatively, the Lady Ducks program has seen 300% growth in their club over that same time period, increasing in their girls’ and women’s participation from three teams and 55 players in the 2004-05 season to 10 teams (nine girls’ teams, 8U through 19U, and one women’s team) and 175 players in the 2014-15 season.
In the 2015-16 season, the Lady Ducks program is fielding 11 girls’ teams (6U through 19U) and two women’s teams for a total of approximately 200 female players.
Having current Lady Ducks players participate in Try Hockey For Free Day events such as this falls in line with the club’s desire for their players to be mentors to other girls within the sport, which in turn helps to grow girls hockey.
“They can model and share their love and knowledge of the game down to other girls,” McGarrigle says.
Girl Scout Troop 4606 in Huntington Beach brought members of their troop to the ice hockey session at The Rinks – Lakewood ICE as a way to introduce the girls to the sport.
“We’re just getting started as a troop, and so this is a great way for our girls to have an fun outing for free,” says troop leader Maureen Sigafoos. “This also give the girls an opportunity to try something new and earn their hockey badge.”
Troop member and six-year-old first-grader, Paige Linden, had never skated in hockey gear before but enjoyed her first-time experience. “I liked being on the ice,” Paige said. “It was fun to be able to play hockey with my friends.”
Seven-year old troop member Lexie Parks enjoyed playing the on-ice games offered as a part of the clinic.
“It was a lot of fun,” Lexie said. “I liked playing all the games, especially freeze tag.”
|“It’s great to get the girls out here to try something they may not have thought to try before,” Sigafoos says. “We’re looking at attending a Ducks game this season with our troop. The Ducks provide great ways to get people interested in the sport.” |
For those girls who enjoyed the experience and have an interest in continuing to learn the sport, The Rinks offers the Anaheim Ducks Learn to Play Program presented by Bauer, a four-week session (ice or inline) where first-time players can receive instruction in skating and basic hockey skills. The program is offered for free, including use of full hockey equipment and skates for each participant.
Sigafoos said that the troop members and their parents probably wouldn’t have otherwise thought of participating in an event like this, which makes the outing good exposure for the girls.
“It’s great to get the girls out here to try something they may not have thought to try before,” Sigafoos says. “We’re looking at attending a Ducks game this season with our troop. The Ducks provide great ways to get people interested in the sport.”
The Ducks will hold Try Hockey For Free Day (for both boys and girls) on November 7. Registration is available at www.anaheimducks.com/tryhockeyforfree.
For more information on The Rinks programs, visit the-rinks.com.