A group of girls hockey players in central Ohio are taking it upon themselves to advance the game they love.
The Central Ohio Girls Hockey association recently named its players official youth hockey ambassadors of girls hockey, which gave them the opportunity to grow the sport through a three-week program filled with on-ice instruction and off-ice friendship-building activities.
“We are shouting this from the mountain tops,” said Emily Moersdorf, the COGH secretary. “It gives our current members some pride and a level of responsibility to grow the game.”
As a COGH youth hockey ambassador, the player could invite a friend to attend a multi-week USA Hockey girls intro to hockey program. The ambassador participated along with the invitee in the program run by USA Hockey certified coaches.
The three-week event included a hockey jersey. Moersdorf said about 30 girls and their families participated.
“The girls take an invitation to school or their friend’s house and hand them a paper that says to join them for these three events,” Moersdorf said. “I had older girls helping the new players on the ice, so it was cool. Some of them invited girls from the neighborhood to come out and skate. This really makes hockey attainable when there can be roadblocks and variables that make hockey seem overwhelming for non-hockey people.”
The first week featured an “All Girls’ Open Skate and Pizza Party,” as friends and siblings were invited to join participants on the ice for an hour of free skate, followed by a pizza party. The second week, ambassadors and friends had the opportunity to play an outdoor street hockey game and eat snacks after the event. The final week, participants lace up and skate out for an hour of professional hockey instruction, followed by a hockey bracelet-making event.
Dave Caruso is the senior director of amateur hockey programming for the Columbus Blue Jackets and his daughter participated in the three-week event.
“I think it’s a great program to help showcase how girls play hockey and that it’s not just for the boys,” Caruso said. “It’s a family environment, you can find friends and it’s a little different. You get three hours of instruction and then pizza parties and other activities to help build that bond between girls and families to make it fun.”
The COGH is a non-profit, grassroots organization that exists to grow the game. There are between 200 and 250 girls in the entire program spread across eight teams.
“We have people who are passionate and they love to help create opportunities for girls,” Moersdorf said.
The COGH is dedicated to building a strong community of female players and providing focus and opportunities for girls to train and learn to play hockey in a fun, safe and developmental environment.
Moersdorf said the organization’s membership grows “immensely” every four years when women’s hockey is showcased during Olympic Winter Games. The Columbus Blue Jackets provide support through equipment and exposure during intermission skates. It also helped that the nearby Ohio State women’s hockey team won the NCAA Division I National Championship this past season.
“Sometimes people don’t know girls hockey exists until it’s on national television, which 110% affects growth,” Moersdorf said. “Honestly, we want to keep getting members, we want to help make sure we’re growing the game and we want to make sure girls are reaching their full potential, whether that’s in-house or Division I hockey. Our ultimate goal is to get a girl from Central Ohio, who stayed and played in Central Ohio, to make a Division I or even a Division III team.”
For additional information about COGH, you can visit www.coghockey.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.