This time last year I looked back at the season that was, and reflected on the monumental contribution made by our hundreds of volunteers. No less an effort was unleashed in the 2015-16 season; one that saw over 1600 girls and women participating in the programs offered by our association. Our volunteers are dedicated, passionate, and selfless. I thank them.
Reflecting on the year that was, it’s that number of 1600 that sticks in my mind. 1600 individuals between the ages of 3 and a whole lot older than that. 1600 individuals who look to our association to support them in their pursuit of recreation, competition, and commitment to healthy active living.
We know that our members believe staying active is an important part of physical and emotional well-being. We know many believe that team sports foster learnings that will support them and their daughters in school, work, and the development of transferable leadership skills.
They’re right. A recent study showed that fully 94% of women in senior management and executive roles have a background that involves team sport at the elementary, high school or post-secondary level. Other studies show that girls involved in team sports are more likely to graduate from university and find work in traditionally male-dominated fields.
Bit on the flip side, recent studies report that 41% of girls and 84% of women do not engage in sport. During adolescence, girls drop out of sport at rates 6 times that of boys. The number one reason cited for young women leaving sport is that it is “not fun” and not fun is often defined by girls as “I’m not good enough”. At a time when girls’ confidence is at its shakiest, they are leaving behind sport – a proven key to developing self-confidence.
Speaking directly to the adults involved – parents, coaches, and other volunteers: it is our responsibility to change this dynamic and ensure that hockey is fun at every age and every level so that players will stay involved in sport for many years ahead.
Listen to the kids – this is their hockey, not ours. If they don’t want to try out for competitive hockey, why push them? Let them enjoy the sport at the level that allows them to have fun, as they define it.
Listen to the experts – time and again studies show that kids should play multiple sports until at least the age of 15. Encourage players to explore and experience different sports and when and if they decide they want to specialize, let them, even if it means they are giving up the sport of your dreams.
Do our part to create a safe and healthy environment for our kids. Treat everyone with respect, including officials, coaches, our opponents, and our teammates.
We are fortunate here at the TLGHA that we have a very high retention rate and are able to welcome new members each year. But we should never take that for granted. It is up to us to continue to strive to make the best possible environment for our players.
As we embark on a new season and are faced with decisions, challenges, opportunities and frustrations, we can all benefit from asking ourselves “does this create a better environment for our players?” When the answer is yes, we are on our way to maintaining a positive space for our players to build the foundation for a lifelong involvement in sport.