Five Misconceptions About Female Hockey Players

Aubrey Klavon

Blades dig into ice as the player races to catch their opponent. Air breezes past their face and the cheers of the crowd are simply background noise. Sticks clash and the player’s ponytail is flying around as she skates full force into her zone in an attempt to stop her opponent from scoring. She makes it back in time and knocks the puck away from him. “Yeah G-force!” the family of The Ice Dogs shout from the bleachers. Most people are surprised to find a female playing on a male’s team. However, they’re more surprised to find out about the actual experience of being on the team. Shows like Bella and the Bulldogs lead us to believe female players will experience lots of struggles due to their gender; however, this isn’t the case.

 

Misconception: Parents are more protective of their daughter when playing against boys.

Reality: The parents are no more protective about their girls than their boys. WO Parent Gina Klavon said she was equally worried about all her kids playing hockey, regardless of gender. Nonetheless, parents are concerned about their kids being injured. “It’s a rough sport, I was worried about her getting hurt. However, I felt the same way about all my children playing hockey,” Gina said.

 

Misconception: The girl is not truly part of the team.

Reality: The boys treat the girl like one of them. Frosh. Gianna Klavon felt like a member of the team, and her mother agreed. “Most players treat her like any other player,” Gina said. Even the coaches attempt to be inclusive by saying ‘guys and girl’ when addressing the team. Coach Michael Klavon observed that the boys didn’t treat Gianna any different on the ice, and invited her to join them off the ice when running around the hotel, playing mini sticks, or watching television. Although one might think by changing in a separate location, the girl will feel less included, Gianna said she never felt as though she was missing out. In fact, she enjoyed having her own space so that she could focus before the game and not be distracted by her teammates. While the locker rooms weren’t always ideal as they were often small, dirty rooms, it was still nice to be alone.

 

Misconception: The girl doesn’t get as much playing time.

Reality: Girls aren’t played less because of their gender. Coaches want to win, so if the player has skill, they’re going to get playing time. Coaches do not dislike players based on gender as evident through their continuous equal treatment of all players on the team. “As a coach and player, I like to think hockey is gender neutral and people are treated equally for getting out there and giving it their all,” Michael said. Gianna never had a moment where she felt she was unfairly played less, but instead got equal playing time to every member on the team. “I didn’t play less ‘cause I’m a girl,” Gianna said. The coaches treated her the same way they’d treat any boy with her skill level and never benched her just because they didn’t want a girl out on the ice. Everyone could recognize her talent as a hockey player and gender wasn’t factored into it.

 

Misconception: Opponents target the girl.

Reality: For the most part, opponents treat the girl equally. Although Gina noted there were a few times Gianna’s opponents targeted her, the other team generally does not care their opponent is a girl, just that they’re an opposing player. “As soon as they see the ponytail they make assumptions about you,” Gianna said. She went on to explain that opponents think less of her until they actually see her play, but once they see she’s tough she becomes their equal.

 

Misconception: People don’t want to admit the girl is good.

Reality: People are just as quick to compliment a girl as any other player. Gianna’s talent has constantly been recognized by parents, coaches, and players. “All comments have been positive and encouraging,” Gina said. The goalie’s dad has told Gina on multiple occasions that when Gianna is on defense, he never worries because he knows she’ll stop any breakaways. In the first game of the Bantam level, where checking is legal, Gianna made a great play near the end of the game. It was the third period, the minutes were running down, the crowd was glancing over to see how much time was left. Everyone was tense and excited, hoping this first game would be a win. As a player on the opposing team skated into the home team’s zone on a breakaway, the crowd grew more nervous. Gianna forced the player out toward the boards and made a clean check, which the coach claimed as the best check of the game. She knocked a boy twice her size right on his bottom and helped win the game. The crowd went wild, cheering louder than they had for any other play. “It was a proud parent and coach moment,” Michael said.

 

Women in sports have come a long way since Title XI was instituted. Although there is still sexism to an extent, there is much less than you would expect. Women have the opportunity to play all the same sports as men and be treated the same. As Gianna said, “People respect you more than expected.”20151122_123127