Survival of the Fittest: Girls on Boys Teams
To Play or Not to Play
Not every female hockey player will be able to handle playing with the big boys, nor does every girl want to. But there are girls capable and willing to do just that. If a girl wants to play hockey in a checking league, she should:
- Be at the same skill level as her teammates
- Thrive on competition
- Not be intimidated by the size and strength of the boys around her
- Be focused on the game and skill development
- Not be in it for the social aspect alone
- Want to be the best player she can be
Overcoming the Gender Barrier
No matter how good a female athlete is, if she’s playing on a boys team, she may face teasing, unequal playing time and/or a bruised ego. But if she really wants to play, she needs to step up and prove her worthiness to her teammates and coach.
Tips for Girls to Survive with the Boys
- Push hard: Competition is usually high in boys hockey, so girls are naturally pushed hard during practices. Come game time, they might not see many minutes if they are weaker players or have unfair coaching. Even though it can be frustrating, always work hard at every practice—so when you do get ice time you can play your best and be happy with your performance.
- Don’t be the “odd man out”: Be aware of everything your coach and teammates are talking about. Older girls generally change in another area, possibly missing out on important locker-room talk. Join the boys after you’re done changing if you have to, so you don’t miss out on any tips from the coach, hear what you’re teammates are thinking and hopefully develop a sense of camaraderie with them.
- Be vocal: It’s easy to ignore a quiet teammate, so whether you’re on the bench or out on the ice, let teammates know you’re there and you support them. In turn, they’ll do the same for you.
- Don’t give up: It can take time for teammates to warm up to a newcomer, especially one of the opposite sex. Prove to them you want to be there and you deserve to be there. They’ll respect you for sticking it out.
Says Heather, 17, “Hockey will always be a male-dominated sport, but I’ve found everyone just thinks it’s really cool I play.”
Editor's Note: Thank you to Kristin Carlson, member of Women's Hockey Association of Minnesota.
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