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Hockey Canada applauds Greater Vernon Minor Hockey for getting more girls into the game

Hockey Canada applauds Greater Vernon Minor Hockey for getting more girls into the game

Thanks to last year's grant, GVMHA was able to run a women's coach development program in the summer, specifically targeting the under-15 age group.

“[The U15 group is] A very emotional group of very good players, and [we’re trying] “To create a path for them to stay in the game as long as possible,” Bathurst said. “We now have more women coaching in our community than ever before.”

Many members Thompson-Okanagan Lakers, the host team of this year's Esso Cup, are coaching young teams in their region. Lily Roberts, a four-year veteran of the Lakers, has been coaching for three years and is currently working with the U13 team in Vernon.

“I really wanted to start coaching just to change perspectives,” Roberts said. “[Growing up,] If I had that woman to look up to, I would feel more comfortable learning and asking questions, and I would feel more inclined to do what the coach says.

Roberts decided to pursue coaching for a full season after being invited to help out at a hockey camp over the summer. The 17-year-old reached out to see if she could coach next season, and it turned out her younger sister wanted to start playing.

“At first, she was kind of hesitant to have her sister as her coach, but after time has gone by, I think she thinks it's really cool to have me there,” Roberts said.

Hailey Setter has always loved working with children and began training by helping out at summer camps. A second-year member of the Lakers, the 16-year-old is an assistant coach with the U7 team in Lumbee.

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“I heard there were a couple of girls who were struggling to have fun on the ice in Lumbee, so I thought I would go and spend some ice time with them to see if I could change that and help them have some fun,” Setter said. “That turned into me getting out there every day.” Wednesday and train them.”

Setter has been coaching for nearly a year, and it's the joy that shows on her players' faces when they have fun and improve their skills that makes her excited to be a coach.

“For me, if the kids are having fun, they'll look forward to coming out to the rink,” she said.

When Setter first started playing hockey, her team was coached by three women, including her mother. She didn't realize the impact of that experience at the time, but looking back, Setter says she looked up to them as role models.

“When I got older and started seeing female coaches, I really looked up to them and really wanted to work as hard as I could to get where they were and be as good as them,” Setter says. “I think it's really cool that I can do that for some of these younger girls.”

It's a busy schedule balancing school work, Lakers practices and training, but Roberts and Setter credit time management and not procrastinating with staying organized. Having the opportunity to see the game from a coaching perspective has also opened up a new way of viewing the game as a player.

“I've noticed that when I explain something to one of my younger children, it doesn't always work the first time,” Setter said. “When I explain it, I also break it down more. I explain it more simply, which I've noticed helps me when I go to do this skill in my practice.”

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Through her dedication to the game, Roberts became the award's first recipient Distinguished Women's Leadership Award from the GVMHA, an award recently created to further encourage the growth of the women's game in the region.

“I am extremely grateful to be its first recipient,” Roberts stated. “It's a great feeling to know that I'm helping create the next generation of women's hockey players, especially in Vernon.”

With the Iso Cup 2024 After hosting in Vernon from April 21-27, Roberts is thrilled that she will finish out her time as a Laker competing for Canada's U18 Women's National Club Championship on home ice before starting at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in the fall. .

“I always dreamed of participating in the Esso Cup when I was young,” Roberts said. “It's so crazy what's happening here in my hometown.”

The tournament is also another opportunity to further develop the women's game in the Okanagan.

“To give these young players the opportunity to see the highest level of amateur hockey in terms of junior hockey in our country, I think it will only increase the number of registrations across the board,” Bathurst said. “It's an exciting time for the next generation of female players in the Okanagan and we're really excited about it.”

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