Women's Hockey on the Rise!
Nov 24, 2016

The popularity of girls’ and women's hockey has increased dramatically since I first started playing way back in 1976!  Well, technically I did play on a boy's house league team my very first year. Interestingly, there was one girls' team in the boys' house league that year, and they went undefeated! How I was wishing I could have played on the girls' team that year! :)

In 1977 (my second season of hockey), I joined a girls’ hockey team in the Peterborough Girls’ Hockey Association.  At this time, girls’ hockey was very sparse in Canada, and even more so in other countries. I was very fortunate that Peterborough, Ontario area was a hotbed for hockey! As well as having a house league for girls, Peterborough had Rep programs. Even some very small communities in the Peterborough area had girls' teams that travelled to neighbouring communities.

Over the years, girls' and women's hockey has seen a steady increase in popularity. It has become more socially acceptable for females to play hockey.  It used to be that when I told people that I played hockey, they would look at me as if I had 3 heads!  Women’s hockey is undoubtedly more accepted now.

The IIHF women's hockey world championships, which started in 1990, gave exposure to the sport in a few select countries that already had female hockey programs. Certainly, the first Olympics for women’s hockey in 1998 gave even more exposure to the sport at a global level.  Whereas there was a total of 8 countries that attended the first World Championship in 1990, there are now four divisions of World Championships, with a total of 48 countries competing worldwide!

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Another explosion of women’s hockey has been seen at the college and university levels in North America. The increase in popularity was very slow in the beginning in both Canada and the United States. In Canada, women’s university hockey has been around since at least the 1920’s. A game was reported to have taken place between the University of Toronto and McGill University (Montreal) in Toronto on February 24, 1922.There are now four divisions of Canadian university hockey teams that compete for the CIS championship, with a total of 33 teams. College and high school hockey are also flourishing in Canada.

In the United States, the first women’s university hockey teams were established in the 1960’s. Brown University created the first collegiate women’s team in 1965. It wasn’t until Title IX was strictly enforced (around 2000) that the number of collegiate programs offering women's hockey took a leap.  Title IX is a law that requires equal opportunity for men and women in sports, including funding and scholarships. There are now a total of 35 women’s collegiate teams in the United States.

At the grassroots level, the increase in girls’ hockey has been astounding as well. There are so many admirable role models for young girls now, and many more opportunities to strive for! Some girls flourish in an all-girl environment, which is much easier to find than it was 40 years ago! With the increase in interest in the sport, we have seen an increase in resources, and of course in good quality coaching. And yes, many of these good quality coaches are not surprisingly female! A host of female hockey players offer exceptional high-quality summer hockey camp exclusively for females!

The last 40 years have been nothing short of amazing for women’s hockey.  I can’t wait to see what the next 40 years will bring for the sport!


This page is maintained by © 2016 Andria Hunter (andria@whockey.com).

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