As we all know, hockey isn’t just for boys anymore.
Female hockey has seen a steady climb in the number and calibre of players coming out to compete in Canada’s favourite game over the years, and that includes right here in Williams Lake where the efforts of some very dedicated coaches and managers have created a competitive female hockey program other towns would envy.
“The girls want to succeed the same as the boys. They want to win the same as the boys and they’re just as aggressive, it’s just people don’t see that. They don’t appreciate that the girls want to get better and they want to develop as much as the boys do,” said Troy Weil, who along with fellow coach Roy Call have carved out a path for girls to be competitive in hockey in Williams Lake.
“Roy and I did it together. We went through the struggles at the grassroots level,” said Weil, who along with Call are both hockey dad to daughters.
At first the two were up against a lot — misconceptions about female hockey, keeping numbers up to form teams year after year and political issues, such as equal ice time.
“Some people weren’t on board with it but it has sure worked out well. We have a Bantam rep team, we’ve got the midget reps (and the female Atom house team.).”
Weil said when his daughter started playing hockey he was just happy she enjoyed the game. Then the team started starting about forming a rep team.
“That first year we lost a lot of games, the second year we won a few and by the third year we were competitive.”
Since then, Weil has stepped back from coaching the female team but he still shares his knowledge of female hockey locally and even provincially with BC Hockey and is very proud of the level of the team coming out of Williams Lake.
“The last years we’ve had one of the top teams in B.C. from our little town of Williams Lake. There’s some pride there, for sure.”
For coach Roy Call, he wanted his daughter and other local girls to benefit from the many life lessons learned while on the ice.
“I want the girls to get a chance to learn that if you work hard you will do well, and if you want to excel at anything, whether that’s sports or school or relationships, if you work hard, positive things happen. Sports has been a great way (to teach that) and hockey is the sport I like the best,” said Call, who, as the Female Midget Timberwolves head coach, has his sights set on winning gold when Williams Lake plays host to the provincials this March.
Call said his team has built a solid reputation of the years for their competitive edge and they have no trouble finding teams who want to play them.
“They know we’re going to be competitive, we’re tight-knit and we can play in our hometown. We are incredibly fortunate,” said Call, who also credits the past efforts of Mike Grace and the more recent efforts of Jen Loewen, who has been developing the younger players.
“We’ve been able to help by keeping it going annual, year after year. We’ve been able to keep pushing and pushing and keep the numbers up and be flexible with our rosters so that we can play every year.”
This will be the last year Call’s daughter will play for the midget team, and Call isn’t sure what he’ll do next year, but he still has a greater vision for competitive female hockey in Williams Lake.
“I would really like to find way to keep a senior female team here, there is a league similar to the Stampeders who play around the province and I’d love to bring a team like that here.”
(See photos below)