With the loss of the Georgian Shores girls' hockey program, Meaford girls wanting to play hockey were faced with travelling elsewhere to find a program or giving up the sport altogether, until a pair of local hockey dads brought the community together to create a made in Meaford hockey program for girls.
“As you probably know, Meaford and Beaver Valley minor hockey have been amalgamated for some time based on declining registration numbers. One of the side effects of that has been the loss of the Georgian Shores girls' hockey program which has existed for some time. Last year the association was down to two girls teams and this year they didn’t have enough players to run any teams so the local girls have either left hockey, joined the Georgian Shores mixed teams, or are travelling to other centres,” hockey parent Jeremy McCoubrey told The Independent. “This season the town of Meaford and a couple local hockey dads – Grant Murray and Chris Harding – partnered to start a Girls Hockey program at the Meaford arena.”
The new program, which began in October, provides ice time on Monday nights through the end of March at the Meaford arena for girls to play hockey in a non-competitive atmosphere, and includes skills development, skating development, and game scenarios at a cost of $100 per child.
The girls' hockey program has proven popular, drawing more than 20 registrations for the season.
“Many of the girls who registered had wanted to play, but were turned off by the need to play in mixed programs – including the organizers' daughters and my daughter. This is really a grassroots program that is fun and attracting new kids to the game – which has been a challenge for many hockey programs in recent years,” McCoubrey explained.
Amber Knott, Meaford's Supervisor of Recreation Programs & Events, told The Independent that the feedback from participants in the program has been encouraging.
“The local volunteers and I met to discuss this program idea, and we are very pleased with the response. The best part is hearing the young girls excited to come back every week, the parents telling us that they count the nights before hockey again. That is what these programs are for – to bring back the excitement of recreation programs and make them accessible and affordable to everyone in our community. We are very lucky to have such wonderful volunteers that make these programs so enjoyable for everyone that participates,” said Knott.
For hockey parent Jeremy McCoubrey, the program has been a success, and he suggests that if the program continues to attract participants it could help bring about a return of the Georgian Shores program.
“It’s coincidence that this all came together during the same season that the Georgian Shores girls' program ended, but it could be the basis of a great program for the future, and possibly a return of organized girls hockey to Meaford and the Georgian Shores. I think this is a great thing for the community,” said McCoubrey.