Dreams come at a gender-based price

Jul 19 • Feature Story, Local Sports, ViewpointNo Comments on Dreams come at a gender-based price

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I have had the privilege of watching a friend of Brenna’s grow up from a cute, shy kindergartener to a confident, talented young woman about to embark on the next stage of what she hopes will be a long journey for her as a hockey goalie.

Jessie McPherson, a 14-year-old CKSS student about to enter Grade 10, was hand-picked by Cambridge Rivulettes coach Geoff Haddaway as one of two new goalies for his team next year. He said after seeing her play once, he was encouraged to go see her play during the Midget AA hockey girls’ provincial championships, where she helped her underdog team to play in the bronze medal game.

That’s quite an achievement for any athlete, but for a 14-year-old leaving home to go live and play two hours away in the Provincial Women’s Hockey League, that is pretty impressive. And it wasn’t just her skill between the pipes that was noticed, and her more-than 38 career shutouts. When Haddaway talked to her coaches and trainers, they all told him she was mature, tough, competitive and disciplined enough to handle being away from home, playing against girls up to 20years of age with way more experience.

Her parents, Nate and Sandy, have supported Jessie in her pursuit of hockey skills since she was four. Numerous training camps, goalie camps, goalie coaches and off-ice conditioning over the years have helped her hone her skills and feed her competitive spirit.

All of that is fantastic news. What makes me a little angry is that if Jessie were a male hockey goalie going into the OHL, the cost to her and her family would be a lot less. As it is, they are asking for sponsorships from local individuals and businesses to help Jessie follow her dream of ultimately tending goal for the Canadian women’s Olympic hockey team.

And her dream would be more easily attainable if she was rich and/or male.

I have always been a little irked when girls were “encouraged” by coaches to leave co-ed hockey so the boys could have the developmental opportunities, seeing as they could go so much farther in a hockey career than a girl. It didn’t matter if that girl was a better player.

So for Jessie to have this opportunity to play hockey at the provincial level at such a young age makes me want to join Nate and Sandy in moving heaven and earth to make this happen. It would be great if our community joined that effort. The McPhersons have sacrificed a great deal to get Jessie to where she is, and that young goalie has worked incredibly hard to achieve her level of skill.

I, for one, will be supporting her however I can, be it financially or emotionally – and I look forward to being on a bus of supporters heading to Cambridge for Jessie’s first game. The league doesn’t allow the teams to charge admission (which means no gate revenue) but for spectators this means the opportunity to watch excellent hockey for free.

Save my seat on the bus, Nate, ‘cause I have my signs and foam finger ready to watch some great hockey and support a kid who deserves her chance to follow her hockey dreams.

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