Kitchener, Ontario has long had a reputation for its pride and strong work ethic, this attitude has and fierce resolve can often be found within its sporting clubs particularly the Hockey Community. Our Girls Hockey programs are no different.
What began three years ago as a simple idea to bring together each and every female playing member, has since blossomed into something so much larger than pushing a frozen disk up and down the ice. Instead of continuing to use Kitchener Girls Hockey Day to bring the Community in, the girls have turned around and used it to help a Community in need.
Last year each participating Girls team, from the very young just learning the sport to the more established Intermediate and Senior Lady Ranger squads, was challenged to collect food items for our local Food Bank. The team collecting the most would earn special Girls Hockey Day jerseys. The results were terrific and over 4500 pounds of food were delivered. This year with a committee goal of 5000 pounds, nobody could possibly have predicted what was about to happen.
With a month to go before the December 20th deadline, reports quietly began to flow in of teams collecting and stockpiling food stuffs, then the numbers started coming in and the 5000 pound goal seemed to have been quickly eclipsed by an outpouring of generosity and determined effort. First the number was 12,000 pounds with two days to go, and then all of a sudden it was at 16,000. Each running total seemed like a push or a jab to get out and do more.
This seemed to be so much more than a simple chance at another Hockey jersey; it is not like each and every player doesn’t have a half dozen different sweaters lurking somewhere in the depths of their hockey bags. No this was different, this became about helping a struggling community in need. With some of Kitchener’s largest production companies leaving town over the last several years, it became about helping our neighbours, our friends, and far too often our own families.
Girls Hockey which often struggles for its own identity, had reached out to help their fallen teammates in the community, by unselfishly donating over 25,000 pounds of food. To put that into perspective, that amount translates into over 31,000 meals. That would mean 62 meals per girl enrolled in the entire Kitchener Minor Hockey Association.
Kitchener Girls Hockey gets it right, their emphasis on Teamwork has proven effective both on and off the ice. With a learning experience as rich and thoughtful as this it is no wonder that Women’s Hockey is churning out such motivated and compassionate adults. The ability of these young women to perform at school, plus wake up early for less then desirable ice times, spend anywhere from two to eight hours a week on the ice, and still have time and motivation along with their parents to give and keep giving. Simply remarkable, and instantaneously inspiring.
As we draw nearer to this year’s Kitchener Girls Hockey Day on Sunday January 12th you can believe that this generosity will not end there as this all day event has never ceased to continue inspiring me to keep volunteering for them. Each and every Girl in the Kitchener Minor Hockey System will have ice time that day all in the same venue, some have league games, others playoff games, and some just games for fun (which honestly all are fun). But for me personally it is 3 very special ice times that I look forward to the most, the first is for Girls in our Rookie Ranger program and for the majority it is the very first actual hockey game they will ever play and one I never miss being behind the bench for.
The second two were introduced for the first time last year, one being for Girls who have never tried hockey, where each participant is outfitted by the Association and then is given a sheet of ice to share with Gold Medal winning Canadian Olympians (Becky Kellar and Cheryl Pounder in 2013). But when it comes to inspired play, enjoying the game the way the Kitchener Ice Pirates do is an amazing moment to be a part of. The Girls and Women of the Kitchener Ice Pirates will again invite their friends from around Southern Ontario to join them in the most incredible and inspiring game you will ever see.
Girls Hockey doesn’t always get the exposure it deserves, but it does bring with it the very qualities a community can build on, strength, passion and teamwork. Our Community doesn’t stand behind Kitchener Girls Hockey, our Community stands with Kitchener Girls Hockey.
To learn more, please feel free to contact us on Twitter @KitchenerGHD