Several years ago, there was a young girl in a hockey program in Georgia, of all places, who would do “wall sits” with her teammates, close her eyes and chant with quiet confidence, “tiny but mighty, tiny but mighty.”
Playing on an otherwise all-boys’ team, this 8-year-old girl was determined to excel during each and every drill, practice and game. Despite being smaller and younger than her teammates, there was no way she was going to use that as an excuse for not succeeding. She was, after all, “tiny but mighty.”
Her mantra can easily be applied to the growth of female hockey in our country. When the first IIHF Women’s World Championship was held in 1990, the U.S. Women’s National Team program was “tiny” in comparison to other female sports, but quickly had a “mighty” impact on our sporting landscape.
During that inaugural season, there were 6,336 female players registered with USA Hockey. That numbered has swelled to more than 65,600 female players today.
Two decades ago, girls took extra steps to fit in with boys on “their” hockey teams. The goal for so many of us as the “lone girl” on the team was not to draw attention to ourselves. Ponytails were tucked into the backs of helmets as girls followed in their brother’s footsteps to give hockey a try.
Today, we actively encourage young girls to play this awesome game. Girls are often joined on the ice by other girls and quite often boys and girls today will learn the game from a female coach.
Women’s collegiate teams compete in the Frozen Four, and more than 80 women’s collegiate programs are now in existence. There is also hockey after college, thanks to a growing Women’s Professional League.
Adult hockey now markets to the women’s demographic by hosting tournaments coupled with wine tasting, and more moms are lacing up the skates and joining in on the fun.
As the momentum of our game grows, so do the stakes. This April, the world’s best female hockey players will make their way to Burlington, Vt., to execute their game plan in the name of national pride. The top female players from the leading hockey-playing countries in the world (U.S., Canada, Finland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, Slovakia and Germany) will show the female game at its best.
Hockey fans from Burlington and from all over the country will have the opportunity to see veteran Olympians and future National Team stars competing on home ice as they look to win our fourth consecutive IIHF World Championship title.
As we reflect on the inception of the IIHF Women’s World Championships and the 1990 U.S. Women’s National, those metaphorical “wall sits” have paid off over the past two decades, taking us from “tiny” to “mighty.” And as the puck drops in Burlington, we must thank the trailblazers of that 1990 U.S. Women’s National Team for being such great role models for those who have followed in their skate tracks.
Just like them, the 2012 U.S. Women’s National Team that will skate for gold at Gutterson Fieldhouse this spring will inspire a new generation of girls (and boys) to be mighty in their own way.
Reagan Carey is the director of Women’s Hockey for USA Hockey.
Women's Worlds Single-Game Tickets Now On Sale
Single-game tickets to the 2012 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Burlington, Vt., are now on sale. The tournament, which will be staged in the United States for the first time in a decade, will take place April 7-14 at Gutterson Fieldhouse and Cairns Arena. Tickets are set at $15-$30 at Gutterson Fieldhouse, and $8 at Cairns Arena. The bronze- and gold-medal games will be sold as a package for $70.
Don’t miss your opportunity to cheer on the United States as they defend gold on home ice against the best in international women’s hockey.For updated event and ticket information, visit Burlington2012.com or contact the University of Vermont Box Office at (866) 4CATTIX.