TROY, USA – Brent Hill had a pretty easy job on Sunday. He helped organize an afternoon of girls’ hockey on the campus of RPI, an ECAC school that enjoys great success in college women’s hockey.
“It was a blast!” Hill enthused. “We had about 35 girls in total come out, which was a great improvement from last year when we had 15. I’m definitely motivated to keep it going next year, and maybe start a new campaign to ‘bring a friend’ to make the event an even bigger success.”
Hill called the festivities “Hockey Fun Day,” and he delivered as advertised. The 35 girls had RPI ice for two hours in the middle of the afternoon, and ages ranged from 6 to 16. “We invited any organization from the area to participate,” Hill said, “and we got girls from six. The furthest away was Manchester, Vermont. We had lots of calls from girls looking for more ice time, so this event was perfect.”
Hill and his assistants decorated the arena beforehand and finished with a pizza party after the hockey was done, but those two hours on ice were special for all involved.
“We started with a free skate to get warmed up,” he explained, “and then we played what I call ‘ice-breaker’ games to get out the nerves and have some fun. We also had special events like a relay race and a host of skills contests. The heart of the program was cross-ice games for 30-40 minutes. At the end, girls voted to play two more games to finish. It worked out really well.”
“It’s always a challenge to make it fun for everyone when there is such a difference in age from oldest to youngest,” Hill continued, “but the idea for our event was to give back to the community.”
As such, it wasn’t a recruiting process; it was an opportunity for girls who loved the game to play a little more.
“We also had seven RPI players come out, and that was a huge bonus,” Hill said. “They talked to the parents and sat in the stands and really made it special for the girls involved.”
Hill started preparing for the event by contacting the local Troy-Albany Ice Cats, who promoted the event on their website. The Ice Cats is a program specifically for girls, and they were enthusiastic about supporting the girls’ weekend at RPI. “Everybody loved it,” Hill said in conclusion.
And that is the whole point behind the IIHF’s initiative. In Troy, New York, it was mission accomplished.