The Importance of Having Women Coach Women’s Hockey Teams

  • Graphic Madeleine Gendreau

Robertson is a coach for the Midget AA Lac-St-Louis Selects for the Ligue Hockey Feminin du Quebec.

In a male-dominated field, women are often overlooked as hockey coaches. Some may not see the positive impact we have on adolescent women. There is only so much a father-turned-coach can teach a girl’s hockey team.

For the past four years that I have been coaching, I have been the only female coach in Lac Saint-Louis at the competitive level.

Not many have realized that as former athletes, we can teach these girls much more than anyone can imagine.

According to the Coaching Association of Canada, women only hold 19 per cent of head coaching positions. 19 per cent of Canadian women participate in sport, compared to 35 percent of men. While girls’ teams with male head coaches have been successful, it takes more than just physical preparation to win games.

As women, we understand the psychological makeup of young girls. The life experiences that girls go through are very different from that of boys. They’re taught to act and think differently.

It’s important for a coach to understand how a girl mentally prepares for her sport. This is where we as female coaches come in. We are there to share our knowledge with the girls and give them an experience of a lifetime.

Hopefully, this will encourage them to continue with their competitive natures and take up coaching themselves.

The values and leadership models that are currently in place are based off on a system where males hold these head coaching positions. We as women need to change this model for the young girls we coach. A new system must be created based on them.

The female view of competition and independence needs to be changed as well. The traditional model has shaped the sport culture to suit men’s hockey.

It’s time for change, a time where the girls have their own system where they can feel important. This starts with us, the female coaches that are willing to step up and be leaders.

Since there is a significant lack of women in coaching positions in girls’ hockey, this process may take a while before it takes off. A program needs to be put in place to support the female coaches, like myself, that dream of moving up and being behind the bench of the national team.

The Coaching Association of Canada is trying to combat this problem and aims on increasing the number of coaching opportunities for women.

This program is giving coaches the opportunity to experience their sport on another level. There are apprenticeship programs and team workshops that coaches can attend to further enhance their knowledge.

According to studies done by the CAC, since the late 1980s, close to 500 female coaches have received more than three million dollars in the form of development grants and even National Coaching Institute grants.

There are people willing to help women make a difference in the lives of the young women we coach. We need to stand our ground as leaders and prove how important we are.

Although men lead this profession, this is our time to change the value system and mould it towards young women. One day we will stand, leading our team on the ice in proper roles as head coaches.

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