When players from the local women’s hockey team, the Kodiaks, decided to start a ‘Learn 2 Play’ (L2P) program for Revelstoke women of all ages to learn to skate and play hockey, they weren’t sure how many women would turn up.
“I expected about ten to fifteen people,” says coach Stephanie Miller. Miller and fellow coach Abbi Vigue needn’t have worried. More than thirty five women took part in eight week program.
“When the program started, a lot of the participants could barely skate, let alone hold a stick, stop, turn and shoot a puck,” says Miller. “On December 8, we held our graduation game, where they played their first hockey game. It was truly amazing watching them transform over the eight weeks. I actually started crying tears of happiness on the bench during the game, the smiles and laughter made this volunteer experience so worth it.”
“It was an epic night and an amazing game,” Vigue agrees.
Both Miller and Vigue started playing hockey at a young age and pursued the sport to high competitive levels.
Miller, who moved to Revelstoke from Manitoba several years ago, played Junior A hockey with the Northern Stars. “Women’s Junior A is all across Canada,” she explains. “We also played against university A and B teams.” When she was twenty and twenty one, Miller played on Team Manitoba, a travel team. “I played with Brigette Lacquette. She is a defenceman on the Canadian Olympic team,” says Miller.
Vigue is born and raised in Revelstoke. “I played with the boys until midget,” says Vigue. After that, she played for a women’s team in the Okanagan, participated in the BC winter games, joined the BC Outbacks (a AAA senior women’s team) and, after high school, Vigue headed to a three month boot camp prep school in Silvermont, USA. “It was for University scouts to come and see us,” she explains. Vigue was selected by scouts and played tier 1 varsity hockey on an American team.
Both women play on the local women’s team, the Kodiaks. They had been hearing about how a lot of women in town wanted to opportunity to learn to play, but felt intimidated jumping onto a team.
“The L2P came from that chatter. We wanted to create a place where women felt comfortable learning. It is the best feeling, passing on a passion,” says Miller. “We taught them how to work as a team, to have confidence in themselves, and know the rules and drills of hockey.”
The program was such a success it will be starting up again in January of 2019.
“We really want to grow role models for the younger female generation of the town that want to play,” says Miller. “It would be awesome to someday have a league of women’s teams like the mens.”
Vigue would like to see a female minor hockey team in Revelstoke. She, along with other Kodiak players, have held skills nights for younger players, this winter.
“We know there are girls in town who want to play, and we want to make sure we give them the opportunity,” says Miller.