“They might not need me; but they might. I’ll let my head be just in sight; a smile as small as mine might be precisely their necessity.” ~ Emily Dickinson.
Any parent will tell you, every young child wears their emotions on their face. This is how they learn to communicate from a very early age and it is also what makes them terrible poker players. Their ability to convey emotion in a non-verbal manner cannot easily be contained even through the spacing of the wire as it shields their face under tiny helmets.
Sometimes as we age, we lose the ability to grasp the full meaning of a smile, such a simple gesture that when used and understood effectively can inspire change or motivate greatness. But every year Kitchener Girls Hockey Day proves to me that not only do young girls want to play Hockey, they are very much driven by the need to play Hockey, and it is all said with smiles.
The Day itself is very much a celebration of the Girls already dedicated to playing hockey on a regular basis, either as part of a travel team or part of a local league, but where it truly excels is in giving opportunity to Girls of all ages who may be new to the sport or are considering picking it up. This year (3rd Annual) would be no different, and I could not have been more proud to be a part of it.
It has been more than five years since my own daughter picked up the sport, and although she still carries the same yearning for the game, it is incredible to see the faces of the Girls as they step into a ‘Game’ situation for the first time. There is no yelling at refs, questioning calls, or coaching challenges and the only struggle seems to be trying to get their heads high enough to see the action over the boards from the bench.
With Olympic Gold Medalists Cheryl Pounder and Becky Kellar returning this year the fun factor rose substantially especially for the over 40 girls who has signed up for the Annual ‘Give it a Try’ program, where any girl who wants to try Hockey is given just that chance. No equipment? Kitchener Girls Hockey took care of that too buy providing the necessities where needed. Then the smiles came pouring in.
Nobody on the ice for ‘Give it a Try’ was thinking multi-million dollar contracts or sponsorship deals, they simply just wanted to learn about Hockey, to be with Girls who like them were just there for the chance to play. To skate with other girls, some from the Association who were there to help them, without expectations or reservations but to just have fun.
With so much media driven dissection of The Game or the negative and violent press, it is so refreshing and inspiring to be part of an event driven with the purest of intent whose sole purpose is to bring together the Girls in our Community who share a common passion.
At the end of the day, Hockey is a simple game made complicated by adults, and I just love giving it back to the kids. They have taught me far more about what it takes to play The Game than anyone will ever teach them.
Wherever I go I can always carry those smiles with me, you never forget when you first see the fire light and you can always catch a glimpse of the flame every time a Girl steps on the ice for the first time and heads directly for that frozen piece of vulcanized rubber. Keep going Kitchener, you are doing it right.