Lancer women's hockey players lined up on iceMembers of the Lancer women’s hockey team are bringing their love of the sport to girls in their hometowns.

Lancer athletes bringing hockey home

It may be the off-season for members of the Lancer women’s hockey team, but players are still on the ice, bringing their love of the sport to girls in their hometowns.

The team has been awarded a Doc Seaman Amateur Sports Grant from the Calgary Foundation to launch a program called Bringing Hockey Home. Players have fanned out to communities from Essex County to Vancouver Island to help run tryouts, practices, and camps for female hockey organizations in five provinces. The goal of the program is to inspire the upcoming generation of potential varsity athletes, encouraging them to excel in both hockey and in academics.

The program benefits UWindsor student-athletes, the young female athletes in their home communities, and the system of university sports as a whole, said Lancer women’s hockey head coach Deanna Iwanicka.

“This program exposes young players to female role models and it offers mentorship to young female athletes. It also exposes our student-athletes to other parts of the game — being on the bench and taking part in player evaluations and other aspects of coaching,” Iwanicka said.

“It also gives us an opportunity to promote U Sports, with the hope of seeing more student-athletes choosing to stay in Canada for their post-secondary.”

Named for the original owner of the Calgary Flames, Doc Seaman grants fund sports initiatives across Canada. The grants support programs in amateur hockey and other sports, especially projects that focus on youth and those needing equal access to amateur sport.

“When women thrive, the future is bright for all,” said Jason Bates, Calgary Foundation vice-president for grants and community initiatives.

“Calgary Foundation understands the power of sport in connecting communities across generations. We are proud to support the Bringing Hockey Home initiative to encourage hockey development in young female players and to help current players maintain valuable connections to their home communities.”

Lancer players are or will soon be on the ice in British Columbia with the Vancouver Island Seals, the Fraser Valley Rush, and the Vancouver Comets; in Alberta with the St. Albert Bauer Slash; in Saskatchewan with the Prince Albert Bears; in Manitoba with Hockey Winnipeg; and in Ontario with the Whitby Wolves, the Lakeshore Lightning, and the Sun Parlour Female Hockey Association.

There is no cost to the host communities to have Lancer student-athletes participate.

While the team has partnered with local girls’ hockey organizations in the past, this is the first time it has been able to offer its expertise elsewhere in the country.

“We want to thank the Calgary Foundation for this opportunity,” Iwanicka said. “This is a wonderful way to support women’s hockey in Canada.”

—Sarah Sacheli