On Creating Space
October 21st, 2007 by Sonja

We just got home from an early hockey game. We played at a new rink in the area. It’s the rink that the Washington Capitals practice in. Ooohhh. Aaaahhhh. There was a certain sweaty aura about the ice there.

It was a hard game. The girls played really hard and really well.

They lost. 8-0.

Losing Heart

This morning it was hard work to be a hockey mom. It was, I’m certain, even more difficult to be a hockey girl. It was heart-breaking to watch these girls who I’ve come to love skate their hearts out, do the moves, and get wiped up.

Then, it made me angry.

We faced a team of seventeen 14 year olds. We had 11 on our bench. 2 of those girls just turned 11. So … them’s the breaks you might be saying. Yeah … I could say that.

Here’s the thing though. The team we faced is part of a club that supports girls hockey. It opens up space for the girls to flourish and grow. They don’t just have travel teams. They have house teams that feed into the travel teams. The club board supports the girls program and knows what’s happening on that program at any given time. They get special coaching at the same level that the boys teams get.

Our team? Our team belongs to a club that pays lip service to girls hockey. Last year’s club president didn’t support girls hockey and this years club president doesn’t really either. So we have girls hockey teams. Yep. They’re invited. Yep. We have equality. Girls are present and they are part of the program. Backsasswards County Virginia has girls hockey. Guess how many girls are in the house program right now?


Five. That’s right. One hand’s worth. That is what happens in a program that does not open up space for the girls to flourish and grow. There is no one coming along in the wings to build the program on. We essentially have a developmental team as a travel team. It is disheartening.

Slowly it seems that things might have a chance to change. CoachWonderWoman has spoken of her plans. The girls have taken some initiative to learn more and practice harder. But still … without that support, leading and space. Without those younger girls coming in from behind to feed into each of the older more experienced teams, all of the plans and initiatives in the world aren’t going to help a team of eleven grow against a team of seventeen. The problem is not with the team … it’s with the club. The problem is not even with the notion of equality. Because that is evident in both clubs. Both clubs have equality of gender, right?

I imagine if you were to talk to the men on the board of our club (which I do need to start doing), you might hear things like, “Maybe we do have a responsibility to do something, but everytime we do the response is, ‘It’s not good enough,’ so I’m sick of doing anything.” or “We have two girls teams … isn’t that good enough?” (two girls teams vs. eleven boys teams) or “I’m tired of everything always coming back to the gender issue, can’t we talk about something else?”

Maybe we can … someday, when we face that team with a more equitable bench.

(Any resemblance the reader may see to the discussion on gender in the church is purely in the eye of the writer.)

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