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Ice and Ball Hockey in Great Britain

As the ice hockey season across the world is off to a flying start, I thought there’s no better time than now to get my blogging for the season started.

After two seasons of playing abroad for two teams in the CSSHL, I’m now back home playing for a few different teams in what would normally be classed as a non-hockey country. With the recent drafting of Liam Kirk to Arizona and the recent promotion to the top division, playing alongside Canada at the next world championships, views are somewhat changing. Great Britain has a long way to go, but massive strides have started taking shape.

As for the youth development and minor hockey, I can also see massive changes. Before I left for North America there wasn’t a lot of hype around hockey in the UK, teams trained once a week, twice if we were lucky. There wasn’t much in place for girls hockey either. Since returning, I plan to play for a team with only girls as well as having my “boys team”. I call them that because I’m the only girl on the team. My girls team is roughly a four hour drive each way and my boys team is about an hour each way but I’m getting games, which was more than before I left. I’m very grateful to have an all-girls team with a regular season schedule.

The arrangement I have is to train with my boys team and my teams will decide where I play if there’s clashing games. I guess it’s sort of a two-way contract where I train with the team that’s close to me and play wherever I’m needed. The boys so far have been great, although I’ve noticed they’re not so keen to lay out the hits on me in practice. Talking about physicality though, I also play ball hockey. Some of you may have seen my day in the life on Instagram at the ISBHF World Championships, if not it’s definitely worth checking out (I think so anyway!).

Even though at the world championships it’s separated into boys and girls/women and men, it’s very rare for that to happen at league level. Most of the teams in every conference around the league have at least one female on their roster—my mum is even a head coach! Ball hockey is by far the most inclusive sport I’ve played and ice is losing the “its for boys” stigma. The men certainly don’t back off someone just because they’re female. We play to win no matter the gender. In one of my games I went near the opposing team’s goalie and next thing I know I’m limping to the bench, but it was great because they aren’t discriminating. That might seem really weird but I love that I can be part of an all inclusive game that is exactly what it says on the tin— all inclusive.

I’ve even signed for a ball hockey team that’s based nearly five hours away from me. I think it’s amazing that coaches are now very willing to take on players for their ability rather than gender and goes to show that if you work hard you can do whatever you put your mind to.

I like to class myself as a grinder/playmaker rather than a goal scorer. I don’t put up the most points on any team I’ve been on. My role isn’t to score goals. On the court I can run and run and not stop. Personally, I’m not a fan of running for no reason or on a treadmill. I can play any position besides goalie, and I think this is a very important thing to be able to do if you want to be classed as a key player. It comes under being coachable and that’s something I strive to be. Every coach I’ve had, hasn’t valued me for my goal scoring abilities (they’re practically non-existent!), but for my eagerness to play the game, giving 100% at everything I do and being coachable. I guess this paragraph was to show you that you don’t have to put up the points to be a valued member of a team, points are just an added bonus. Coaches shouldn’t love players based solely on how many points they put up per game or in a season.

This season also marks my first year of getting a letter. As it’s not been officially announced as of writing, all I can say is I’m an A!

I’ll check in soon—hope you all have an amazing season and kick butt in whatever your role is!

Aimee Thorpe

(#74/40)


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