By JAYMIE L. WHITE
Special to the Appalachian
STEPHENVILLE – The U15 and U18 female hockey teams are proving that they can do anything they set their minds to.
“I wanted to organize this photo originally at one of the Town of Stephenville’s icons, Port Harmon Beach, but Mother Nature won and the next best option was where the girls play hockey – the Stephenville Dome,” said Councillor Tracy Boland. Her daughter, Jewel, plays on the U18 team. “We want all girls to know that they can do anything they want in life. The reason a few of them had dresses on was to relay a message that girls can dress up and look pretty, but don’t mess with them. They are also strong and beautiful individuals who can do anything they put their mind to.”
Boland said it is important to let the community know that there are no limits to what girls can do.
“Whether it’s playing hockey or baseball or figure skating or curling so on, they can roll with the boys as well,” said Boland. “As a town we want to let everyone know they are accepted in our community no matter their race, gender, sexual orientation, rich or poor. We are all the same. We need to be as one as a community and we want the world to know we are all in this together.”
Boland said she is extremely proud of her daughter and all of the town’s young female athletes.
“Having a daughter playing female hockey, I feel she is a good role model. In fact all of these girls are good role models,” said Boland. “They have a kind, loving nature about them, but once they get on the ice they can be fierce. They come from great parents who are very supportive, which really helps the growth of these beautiful female youths. During game time they have amazing camaraderie. That is where you really see them as strong, amazing, beautiful young women.”
Jewel, who plays on the U18, said it is important for women to be seen as successful in sports.
“It can prove to everyone that women are equal to men and can find happiness in sports and achieve many great things,” said Jewel. “I feel like people like to contain women to the things they feel they are good at, and for some reason, women are a little discriminated in sports like hockey. In my opinion, girls can do everything that men can do and perfect it just as well. We are powerful and should not be questioned for wanting to do things males consider ‘their sports’.”
Jewel said hockey is an amazing sport and that anyone interested should try out.
“Never be afraid to do something you’re interested in. You only live once, and you should take chances and be able to feel free trying new experiences. Do what you want to do for sure,” said Jewel. “I’ve made so many new friends and become very passionate about the sport. It’s shaped me into a very strong young lady and I’m proud that I am a female hockey player.”
Jewel shared that the team atmosphere is extra special.
“The chemistry is very strong and I really like being able to witness girls supporting girls. It’s an amazing thing, to be a part of,” said Jewel. “I love to motivate my teammates to work their very hardest but most importantly have fun and make memories.”
Jonelle Carter, another U18 player, said that it’s important to get rid of the misconceptions about women in sports when it comes to strength and speed. Carter said hockey has given her memories that she will never forget.
“When you play hockey, you will make lifelong friendships. It’s a great way to get exercise and it’s fun,” said Carter. “I’ve had the opportunity to play with a whole bunch of teams, some were good and some we lost every game. I’ve learned how to win and lose.”
Carter said community support is essential.
“Without our supporters we would not be able to do the things we have in the past, at different levels. I am very lucky to have the support as well as everyone else on my team,” said Carter. “The community plays a major role in the Stephenville Minor Hockey Association and without them some kids wouldn’t be able to play.”
Mayor Tom Rose said the positive outcomes achieved by females in sports, and other significant roles, are necessary for the growth of every community.
“I think we’ve hit a pivotal time in Stephenville, especially with this election and having the majority of our council female. It’s about breaking the glass ceiling on so many fronts, whether its educational, equity in pay, leadership roles, political roles, or sports and recreation,” said Rose. “We’re very proud that we can play a role as a community to support inclusion, diversity, and equity on all fronts.”