Just to the right of the wash basin, and in amongst the various mops, brooms, and shovels, Caylee slowly untied her skates. Her number six sweater shared a hook on the wall where Roy, the rink attendant, always hung his coat. Wet strands of hair hung down towards the floor; where just on the other side of the curtain she could see her Father’s shoes as he waited patiently on the other side.
Caylee preferred when her father guarded the opening, she knew nobody could come in. Not like when her brother Mathew became distracted and a left her alone, it always happened just when some toddler managed to spill their juice and a Roy would come rushing in for his mop. No, Caylee felt safer with her Father there.
Growing up as a nine year old in a small Northern Prairie town in Canada, Caylee was one of only a few girls who played Hockey, and she was the only one in her age group. Playing on a boys’ team was her only option, but nothing was going to stop her from playing her favorite sport. She loved Hockey, the smell of the ice, the sound of the skates, everything about the game. But from this quiet spot down the hall she could hear the joyful cheers of her teammates celebrating another victory, another victory in which she had scored a goal to win the game.
Pulling her hair into a ponytail, Caylee sighed deeply before reaching for the curtain, the fresh pine smell of various cleaning products was heavy in her nose. Her Father looked down and smiled warmly before messing her hair with his hand. She knew he was proud of her, but just in case she didn’t, he always reminded her with a tight hug.
Grabbing her sticks and throwing her bag over her shoulder she emerged from the dimly lit closet. She knew she was the first one dressed, she knew her teammates were still in their gear, laughing and decided on who was sleeping over where that night. Caylee’s Hockey bag landed in the trunk with a solid thud, her sticks rattled together and looking up she could see Roy dumping the extra snow out of the Zamboni out back, he always had a wave and a smile, except this time she didn’t feel like returning it. This time she wasn’t sure she was coming back.
On the ice and on the bench she very much felt like part of the team, but the final buzzer always signaled impending loneliness, and quiet celebration……………..
* At this point this story has no ending, and although the names and places in the story are fitional, this scene contineus to be played out all across Canada. For every young girl that endures this and becomes successful there have been far too many that hae never come back.
It is never acceptable to ask anyone to participate in this manner, and this story will repeat until there is change. When you feel that one voice is not enough, remember you are not alone and that the Sport of Women’s Hockey is Global. Keeping her in The Game is just as important off the ice as it is on.
Pass this on, and please help the author finish this story the way any Fairy Tale should, with inspiration and perseverance. Girls Hockey is not a punishment, it is a passion.