By Kira Tull
This past weekend marked the second annual World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend as promoted by the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). All over the world, girls were encouraged to come out to local rinks to try one of the fastest growing sports for women.
In honor of the initiative, local resident and girl’s hockey coach, Leigh Crawford, organized a Girls Try Hockey for Free skate on Saturday, October 13, at Bladerunners-Warrendale, home of North Pittsburgh Youth Hockey Association (NPYHA).
As a child, Leigh grew up skating on flooded parks in figure skates, but lacked the opportunity to play organized hockey. Leigh suited up and tried the sport for the first time as a sophomore while attending the University of Pittsburgh. Realizing the life lessons that hockey can teach an individual, Leigh has devoted herself to increasing the opportunities for girls to get involved in the sport. Now, Leigh is the Head Coach for the NPYHA Girls U19 Wildcats, and assistant coach for the Wildcats’ U14 and U12 girl’s teams.
While teaming up with NPYHA, Bladerunners-Warrendale graciously donated ice time for the Girls Try Hockey for Free skate. Thirteen girls, between the ages of 4 to 15, came out to experience the sport for the first time. Also helping with the event were girls from Crawford’s U14 and U19 NPYHA Wildcats.
During the skate, experienced coaches and enthusiastic youth players helped instruct the young girls new to the sport. They practiced skating and puck handling drills and finished sessions with a fun four-on-four scrimmage. Although, the skill levels varied everyone had a consistent smile on their face.
The celebration of Girl’s Hockey also included back to back to back games by the organization’s U12, U14, and U19 girl’s teams. The games resulted in two wins and one loss.
Overall, 129 girls participated in the day’s event including the “Future Wildcats”, current Wildcats, the Pittsburgh Renegades and the Erie Lady Lions.