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All-girls ice hockey association helps players get involved

Front to Back: Tiffiany Luke, Hazel Barthel, Hallie Garfield on ice at The Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival. Photo: Don Barthel
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Reported by Becca Clarkson

As part of its mission to help female youth players access and enjoy the sport, Vancouver’s only all-girls ice hockey association sent a team to compete in The Wickenheiser World Female Hockey Festival last weekend.

Three times a year the Vancouver Female Ice Hockey Association invites girls from age four to 20 to try ice hockey and equipment for free, in hopes of increasing national sports involvement.

Involvement influenced by gender

According to Canadian Heritage’s 2010 report on national sports involvement, while one-third of Canadian men participate in sports regularly, only one in six women do.

“Gender seems to influence the choice of sport,” the report states. “While men tend to prefer [golf, ice hockey, and soccer], women participate more in golf, soccer, and swimming.”

Haley Voytechek, 25, the new Vancouver Angels’ head coach, says that beyond the healthy lifestyle, players also benefit from the social aspect of being a teammate. Last weekend Voytechek and the Vancouver Angels Midget A1 team—competitive players between 14-17 years old— finished third at the 8th annual “WickFest” in Calgary.

“When you play hockey, just like any sport, you become a family,” said Voytechek who since age 4 has been drawn to the skating, puck control and fast speeds of ice hockey. “But it can get expensive with tournaments and equipment, that’s the most challenging aspect.”

Dom Di Rocco, 30, organizes and leads the mentorship program between the UBC women’s hockey team and VFIHA, where the young girls train with and watch older players throughout the week.

“It’s a vessel for life, this sport. It can teach you a lot of things and create some pretty cool, quality individuals, so that’s what drives me to do this,” Di Rocco said. “I’m trying to recreate the great experience I had for these girls.”

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