Yorkton Minor Hockey (YMH) is hoping four Try Hockey sessions will boost participation and pave the road for female hockey teams in the city.
“Ideally YMH is trying to promote so that the numbers of females playing would support a Pee Wee Female team and possibly an Atom female team,” said Fred Schrader, YMH president.
Schrader pointed out that other cities in Saskatchewan are way ahead of Yorkton when it comes to girls’ hockey. He noted, for example, that the 20 to 30 girls enrolled in Yorkton is only about a tenth of the number playing in Swift Current.
Of the four sessions, two will be specifically targeted toward girls in the IP to Midget age range (four to 17). These run September 7 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. and September 14 from 12 to 1 p.m. at the Kinsmen arena.
As special inspiration YMH is bringing in a guest instructor, former University of Saskatchewan Huskies player Ashley (Stoll) Wilson, sister of Stanley Cup champion Jarret Stoll.
The other two sessions, September 14 from 10 to 11 a.m. at the Kinsmen and September 19 from 5 to 6 p.m. at the Farrell Agencies Arena are open to all children aged four to 12 wishing to try the game. Sportsbank is providing the equipment for all four sessions.
Although Yorkton is perhaps lagging behind in female hockey, Schrader said overall membership in YMH remains strong.
The same cannot be said for minor hockey in general across the country. In recent years enrolment has declined from a peak of around 800,000 to under 600,000. Despite Canada’s reputation for being hockey crazy, only about 10 per cent of children under 18 play the game, approximately half the number enrolled in soccer.
The cost—approximately $1,500 per year for house league according to a national survey conducted by RBC and up to 10 times that amount for competitive levels—is the most often cited explanation for the decline of minor hockey.
Parents also report concerns with safety and the time commitment as reasons for not enrolling their children.