By James Wojtyk, Ottawa Girls Hockey Association President
Throughout the dog days of summer, the Ottawa Girls Hockey Association (OGHA) has been busily preparing for their upcoming season in the rinks. It is a special year for the OGHA as it marks our 20th anniversary of being a female hockey association. From our inception, the goal of the OGHA has been very simple and it is reflected in our motto “Building confident girls…since 1999”.
While simple in concept, the OGHA and female hockey has rapidly evolved over the past decade. This is reflected in the programs that we offer, which have grown to span a broad spectrum of ages (4-21) and teams (Fundamentals/House League/Competitive/Junior-level) with a membership that hovers around 450-500 players.
While the spotlight has been focussed on the many OGHA alumni that have signed with Universities and Colleges throughout North America, there have been many more that have used their development as hockey players as a solid foundation to pursue other athletic endeavours at the highest level. Even more importantly, the OGHA is now mature enough to have girls who played in Novice and Atom over a decade go, now returning to coach after successfully completing post-secondary education. In talking to many of these women, it was the all-important “life skills” lessons that they learned on and off the ice with their OGHA team that gave them the confidence and insight in to what can be achieved through “working hard”.
For our 20th year, the main focus of the OGHA is to get more girls playing hockey and to provide the opportunities for them to grow and develop through experiencing the many positives of our national game. Towards this goal, the OGHA has substantially reduced the registration fees for any new skaters, especially at the Novice (ages 7-8) level and for our goalies…because without the latter, no team can ever hit the ice. We have also implemented a fee-matching strategy for girls wishing to move over from boys hockey and have created a new league to ensure that our HL teams at every level practice and compete locally within the City.
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Bauer/NHL First Shift program kicks off Oct. 29
As well, this Fall, the OGHA in partnership with Bauer and the NHL, will be hosting a female-only First Shift program that facilitates the introduction of new players by equipping them in Bauer apparel and running basic skill clinics with NHL and Hockey Canada alumnae until Christmas time. Our Welcome Event is scheduled for October 29th, 2019 at Jim Durrell Arena. It is an excellent program with all of the right philosophies, and the OGHA is proud to be hosting such a program for the entire region that is integral to female hockey development. To register and find more information, check out firstshift.ca
uOttawa Gee-Gees to lead house league instruction
Speaking of females, hockey and development, the OGHA is also welcoming back the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees female hockey team as the main instructional component for all of our House League development programs. Once a week for the entire Fall session, our girls will experience some of the best hockey role models out there on the ice and in the locker room.
Similar on the Competitive side, the OGHA has partnered with East Coast Edge, who have an all-female staff with an excellent hockey pedigree combined with teaching backgrounds. Both the U of O and East Coast Edge were instrumental last year in implementing another priority of the OGHA – getting more women in coaching roles for our players. We are always open to any inquiries from women that who want to get involved on the ice and will be continuing a trend that we started last year by organizing female-only Coaching Development sessions early on in the season to help us in achieving this goal. And lastly, since you can never have too many females involved in the game of hockey, the OGHA will be hosting a number of refereeing clinics to increase the number of certified female officials in the Ottawa region.
So as the fall rolls in, and thoughts seem to turn ever so reluctantly to school starting and what sports/activities will my daughter(s) play in the Fall OR if you are even remotely interested in what it would be like to coach, please check out our website for contact information on any of our programs.
We have a lot of fun hockey events planned for our 20th birthday party…outdoor shinny games, Winterlude 3-on-3 tournament, games at TD Place before an Ottawa 67’s match and it all kicks off just after Labour Day with the remainder of our Competitive tryouts and House League sort-outs. As well, the program that underpins the OGHA – FUNdamentals – which is the future of the OGHA will be starting in mid-September.
I encourage you to check out our website (ogha.info) and feel free to contact me directly (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have any comments or questions regarding the fastest growing athletic activity in Canada.
Yours in girls hockey,
James Wojtyk – President
Ottawa Girls Hockey Association