COCHRANE— After years of programming designed to foster interest in hockey among Cochrane’s young women, Cochrane Minor Hockey is experiencing a wave of female registrations.
It was several years ago when Lorne Bremner, the female director with Cochrane Minor Hockey, was made aware there was a shortage of female players in Cochrane.
Bremner said he realized the shortage of girls playing hockey when his own daughter was called up to a league she was too young for due to a player shortage.
“We weren’t looking for a team at the time. I was coaching co-ed, her team, a group of misfits in co-ed and I was kind of peripherally aware that we had a female team in Cochrane, but I wasn’t invested in it at that time. We got the call that they were short of players and would my daughter be interested in moving up early into peewee because the numbers were low,” he said. “That did start the conversation … Cochrane, it’s a growing town, lots of money, we should have an awesome female program.”
After that initial shock, Lorne and Cochrane Minor Hockey began designing programming meant to attract more girls to the sport.
“We really jumped on promotion, and for the first three years we ran two come and try hockey events each year. My crawl space is full, I have 20 full sets of gear to out on the girls and get them out on the ice,” Bremner said. “We’ve also had really good buy in from the older girls who come back to take part in those events and act as mentors. That kick-started a lot of the girls that we see in U15, U13, U11, they came from those events.”
Bremner said COVID-19 made it impossible for Cochrane Minor Hockey to host those promotional events for the last two years, but noted that he didn’t think it had much of an impact on the momentum of interest building in the sport.
“Our numbers didn’t really drop this year, and I was really nervous about that, I thought without those events what’s going to happen,” he said.
U7 and U9 are both fielding two female-only teams, Bremner said.
“To me that was phenomenal that we kept that momentum to bring those young girls in still,” he said.
Once Cochrane Minor Hockey got enough interest in the female teams they were able to start having regular tryouts, giving the girls interested in playing an opportunity to have a more competitive experience.
“I think we hit that spot where all of a sudden, maybe their parents though that you’ve got to play with boys in order to learn how to be competitive— And we know that’s not true, but that’s how some people think— Now they started looking at our side and thinking ‘well now you’ve got to make that team, it’s going to be a good team,’” he said. “I think that enticed a lot of the girls that were playing co-ed over, they can be part of something competitive, they can be part of something that’s going to be successful.”
On the female side of things, only the U13 girls team is accepting registrations.
As a whole, more than 1,000 kids are registered to play under Cochrane Minor Hockey, and more than 200 of those kids are girls, which is a point of pride for the organization, Bremner said.
“We’re proud of the fact that our females are now 20 per cent of our registration. When we first started our registration was right around 70 girls.”
For more information on registration, Try Hockey days or other programming news, visit cochraneminorhockey.com/.