Hockey Girls

I haven’t written a lot of faith-related posts lately. Probably because my anxiety has been so prominent, I had a hard time writing about anything else. But, I’m really excited about something my husband and I started at our current church, I want to share it with you.

As a kid, I honestly dreaded most church events that were “for girls only.” Girls-only events exclusively meant one of two things: some kind of sleepover party, which I hated, or some kind of spa event, which I hated even more.

Now, I want to preface this by saying one thing: there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with traditionally “girly” or feminine things. Liking this stuff does not make you any better or worse than a girl who likes sports and cars and dinosaurs.

Spa days and manicures and baking muffins and slumber parties are all awesome, but they were not and are still not my thing. Plus, you can totally like dinosaurs and baseball AND manicures and baking. (I know, how shocking).

If there was a slumber party one event night, and then a sports night the next – I would be totally fine with that. It’s the fact that every single “girl” event at my church and friend’s churches were the exact same.

This made me sad as a kid because I never got to spend time with other girls my age doing things I actually enjoyed. This makes me sad as an adult because I’ve noticed it’s a continuing trend. Girls should get to experience more than manicures and sleepovers.

Anyway, when my husband got the job as a youth & family  director at our new church, we had the opportunity to begin new programs. Immediately, I wanted to start an all girls ball hockey program. Ball hockey is extremely easy to learn – and it’s also my favourite sport.

As a kid, I played ball hockey almost everyday until I became a teenager and realized boys were a lot bigger and stronger than me. As an adult, I noticed tons of opportunities for boys to play free sports and for boys and girls to play sports together, but not a lot of girls only sports opportunities.

So after a few weeks of discussion, we began our all girls weekly ball hockey program.

Something else you should know about our church is that it currently does not have a lot of young families. I was really worried about this, because getting girls to come out to sports events is hard enough…and we didn’t really have a base group to work from.

Still, we put ads up in Starbucks, e-mailed parents who attended the church’s summer camp program, and posted a few online ads. When our first night came in September, we had about 6 girls. I was so happy because I expected 2.

For the next few weeks, we had the same core group of girls. It made it really easy because 3 on 3 is the best way to play in a small gym.

One week, only 3 girls showed up and I felt really discouraged. I had what I thought was a great idea, but maybe it wasn’t what the girls of our community needed? Maybe baking classes or spa days would be better. I had to get over the idea that sports = better. Sports are not better, they are just different. But if I could create a safe place for girls who wanted to play hockey could actually play, then I wanted to see this program through.

Still, I am passionate about giving girls the same opportunities that boys have. So even though that one week made me reconsider if this was even worth it, we plugged through. Eventually, we had parents ask us if there was going to be a boys hockey. I was very firm in the fact that if we did have boys hockey, the girls would still be separate. So we added on a boys hockey program that began right after the girls finished.

We took a week off because Jefferson had a pastoral retreat. When we returned (last week), I could not have been happier. We had four new girls show up that night. All of them said they would return this week.

Now, we finally had the problem we hoped for. Too many girls. 5 on 5 in a small gym is completely chaotic. We tried, and it was a mess. So this week, we went out and bought 10 pinnies. 5 yellow and 5 maroon. We bought a whistle. We invested in this group of girls, hoping they would be back.

And last night, they were all back. Plus two more. We had 12 girls last night. 12 girls all from different backgrounds, all of different ages, all of different hockey experience. We had one girl who plays rep hockey. We have another girl who picked up a hockey stick for the very first time at our program.

I’m not trying to brag or anything like that. I am just SO excited. I am so passionate about girls getting the chance to connect with other girls in a team environment. I’m so excited about girls being excited to play sports. I’m so excited when I see two girls who only knew each other for five minutes cheer each other on. This is what I’d hoped for.

I am not and will never be a “traditional” pastor’s wife (whatever that means). I won’t be able to sing in the choir, or play piano on Sunday mornings. I won’t help out in the nursery or make anything edible for a bake sale.

Because of this, I was really worried when Jefferson got this new job. I was worried I would never be able to contribute. I was worried that I would never be able to give back or passionately volunteer. I believe it’s so important for everyone in the church to volunteer their time, but especially as the spouse of a staff member, it was extra important to me. I wanted to serve. I know God has called me to serve with children, specifically with young girls. But where did that fit in this new church? Where did I fit?

I am so happy that I was able to begin this program with my husband. What started off as the two of us frantically trying to referee a game with 6 girls, grew into a program with 3 additional volunteers and 12 girls. I’m so excited to see what the future holds.

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