Sarah Barker, a 15-year-old female hockey player, packs up her hockey equipment at her Stephenville home. — Submitted photo
STEPHENVILLE Sarah Barker wants females her age to find out why hockey is something she loves to do.
The 15-year-old Level 1 student at Stephenville High has been playing women’s hockey since she was five years old and hopes to see more of her friends check out the game in the near future.
“My dad taught me how to skate when I was little and I just got involved in hockey and ever since then I have been playing,” Barker said Monday while on lunch break from Stephenville High.
It looks like girls curious about the game will have a chance to give hockey a try.
The Stephenville Minor Hockey Association will play host to a female midget hockey game Oct. 13 at 10 a.m. at the Stephenville Dome as part of the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) World Girls’ Ice Hockey Weekend. The association was only too pleased to put out the welcome mat when HNL asked them to play host to a midget game in conjunction with the global event.
The WGIHW is a global opportunity for girls to try hockey as a new sport. The players will be introduced to basic skills of the game in a positive, fun-filled and safe environment.
Any female in western Newfoundland in the 15-17 age group, which is the age group for the midget division under the umbrella of Hockey Newfoundland and Labrador, is invited to play in a Team Red vs Team White game in an effort to promote female hockey to young girls from around the province. Girls wishing to play must register through their local minor hockey association to be eligible to participate.
Barker is anxious to play in the game with a lot of the girls she has became friends with over the years. But, she’s also encouraging her female friends to check out the game and see if hockey can provide them with the same satisfaction level as it did for her.
“I’m hoping that most of my friends play hockey and I hope most of them join on that day because it’s supposed to be a lot of fun and a good experience for them also,” she said. “It’s fun being with all your friends playing hockey together and winning games.”
Female hockey has experienced impressive growth across Canada in the last number of years and it appears Stephenville has reaped the rewards of the growth with the association experiencing about an 85 per cent increase in numbers in the six years that event co-ordinator Roger Barker — who is Sarah’s father and coach of the Stephenville U20 female team — has been involved with grooming young female hockey players in the airport town. When Barker got involved in coaching women’s hockey there were only six girls playing the game but last year the numbers stood strong at 43 players.
Sarah Barker wants to see more females embrace the sport because she feels there are so many benefits to be gained. She knows there are girls who didn’t want to play hockey with the boys, but she hopes they can have a different attitude once they find out the good time girls can have playing the game in a structured environment.
“I’m encouraging a lot of my friends to do it because it’s an opportunity to meet new people and find out what it feels like to be part of a team,” she said. “I know that some girls want to play hockey, but they don’t want to play with boys or they’re too scared to play with the boys. But, playing with females now is just really fun, you get to play with a bunch of your friends and you learn a lot about the game.”
Sarah Barker loves to play the game because it allows her a chance to stay in shape, meet new friends and learn life lessons from experiencing what it’s like to be part of the team.
“It’s just fun to be a hockey player and experience new things,” she said.
There’s just not enough girls doing it right now and she hopes to see that change with this event sparking some interest.
Any female wishing to play in the game or interested in more information can contact Roger Barker at 1-709-643-4390.