The Valley Wild female hockey day at the Kentville Centennial Arena on Sept. 10 included on-ice training sessions for all age groups, a barbecue, a 50-50 fundraiser, registration and more. Everything was free for the participants.
14-year-old Rachel Baker of Kingston, a bantam level player, said she’s been playing hockey since she was five. She’s been with the Valley Wild since she was in peewee and said she’s enjoyed the experience.
“It’s a really good program for girls to come out and play,” she said. “It’s really fun, the people are great and so are the coaches.”
13-year-old Kinzee Veinot of Middleton, who has also been playing hockey since age five and joined the Valley Wild at the peewee level, said the coaching is good and she enjoys the social aspect of the program.
“You get to hang out with all the girls and travel with them and it’s really fun,” Veinot said. She’s looking forward to “playing some good hockey” this season.
Both players agreed that the female hockey day was an enjoyable learning experience, as they went through several drills, played some three-on-three and had a chance to reconnect with fellow players.
Valley Wild Female Hockey Association chairman Jamie Wells said there was a certain level of excitement surrounding the female hockey day. He had parents tell him that their daughter was in bouncing on their bed at 4 a.m. because she couldn’t wait to go.
“That’s the kind of interest that’s here with the kids, they just need to have that opportunity and the knowledge to know what’s going on,” Wells said.
Wells said female hockey in the Valley region is growing. Valley Wild will be offering novice, atom, peewee, bantam and midget level hockey as part of its program this season. Wells said they usually ice “A” and “AA” teams and they want to raise awareness to the fact that there are competitive all-girls leagues available in the Valley.
Wells said the Hockey Nova Scotia Female Council is working to establish a full female novice program across the province. There are currently no all-girls novice teams. There are plans to hold tournaments with pull out teams this year.
Valley Wild Female Hockey Association vice chairman Jeff Zettler said they’re hoping to continue growing the program, which includes players from age five to 17. They’ve had some very competitive teams, including provincial champions. Four or five players from the program are on the Nova Scotia U-16 team.
The Valley Wild board is looking to purchase equipment so that girls who haven’t had an opportunity to play can take part with little or no expense.
“We want to give all girls as much opportunity as their boy equivalents,” Zettler said.
There are girls from Windsor to Bridgetown involved in the program and they see play in arenas across the Valley region. Valley Wild caters to participants geographically as much as possible.