My daughter can play hockey like a girl and that makes me proud

 

 

My daughter plays hockey on an all-boys team. And she is good. This of course leads to all types of interesting situations and conversations. Here is a prime example:

Random Adult to me: “What sports do your kids play?”

My response to Random Adult: “My kids play hockey”

Random Adult’s response to me (causes my jaw to hit the floor): “So you have two boys…”

The struggle is real when you have a girl that plays on an all-boys team. Maya has made the active choice to play hockey, and has shown the passion and skill for it. Her ponytail hangs out the back of her helmet like a badge of honor.

Her journey in hockey started out very rocky. When I took her younger brother to a learn-to-skate program, she asked if she could sign up for figure skating and I “accidentally” signed her up for hockey instead. (By “accidentally,” it was slightly on purpose.) We had just got done with a ballet class and that was pure torture for me, so I guess you could say I may have helped her choose her sport.

Maya was never the kid that was the four-year-old phenom; she started skating at eight years old and, quite frankly, she sucked. She did the learn-to-play program for a year and then moved directly into Squirts without ever playing cross-ice. Because her skill level was not there, the coach didn’t really know what to do with her so he stuck her on a defensive line.

Here’s the cool thing about her though. When she realized that she sucked, she worked hard. And then she worked harder. She would always be at drop-in or open skate, and was puck handling outside. She put the effort in and it began to show on the ice.

The first year of her playing Squirts, she learned independence. There was one other girl on her team and they were always by themselves. Separate locker rooms that were down scary hallways. Even the college team’s locker room when the ice arena didn’t think about the fact that girls might play hockey and need a separate locker room. There was a bathroom once, when we were desperate. It’s amazing how quickly they can change when putting hockey pants on in a bathroom stall.

Fast forward to her second year as a Squirt and something clicked in her head. She began to play aggressively (she does like the penalty box) and figured out how to play end to end as a defenseman.

This year saw a definite a change in how the audience viewed the team and, specifically, my daughter. I feel like I need to make a statement that while my daughter is an aggressive player, she is not a dirty player. She will throw a punch, but only in response to something that’s sent her way. That’s what play hockey like a girl means to me.

Before too long I began to hear things yelled from the other parents in the stands, like “Get her!” and “You’re being beaten by a girl!” It’s hard to sit there silently when it is your child who is being targeted. I can’t lie; I do have a habit of standing up and screaming, “That’s my girl!” when the other side is getting aggressive towards her. It probably doesn’t help the situation, but it makes me feel better. So it will continue.

The most common question I continue to be asked is, When is she going to start playing with girls? My usual response: I don’t know… it’s up to her. I am not the one on the ice, or the one putting the work in. It’s up to her to decide.

This past summer, she had the opportunity to play with a U19 women’s team as a 12-year-old girl. It opened her eyes to the fact that she can still play her game and be successful at it. Her vision for hockey has now changed to include the possibility of playing on an all-girls team. Unfortunately, the nearest all-girls team is an hour away. I am not excited. We will see what happens. Which always reminds me to buy a lottery ticket on the way home.

This year, she is a second-year PeeWee, playing right defense and back to being the only girl on her team. Her goal for this season is to stay out of the penalty box as much as possible. And she has been pretty successful at that except for the one game where a player cross-checked her, knocked her down, and laid on top of her to keep her from getting up. Her response was to chop him across the back with her stick until he got up. Needless to say, they both ended up in the box. That was the game when she scored a goal in the last eight seconds to tie the score. My daughter showed everyone that she could play hockey like a girl, and that was fun.

As she plays her game, I will continue to yell “That’s my girl!” every time she stops a goal from being scored or is being escorted to the penalty box, because she is my girl and I am a proud hockey mom. Especially when her ponytail starts to swing from the back of her helmet.

From an article appearing on ParamountHockey.com, a website designed especially for hockey fans. Used with permission.