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This article was published 28/4/2019 (263 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The St. Vital Chill female hockey program has come a long way in the last three years.
"I’m busting with pride," Dennis Dufour, the vice-president of the St. Vital Chill, told The Lance recently. Dufour was speaking in light of a standout season for the program, which was formed in the summer of 2016 under the umbrella of the St. Vital Minor Hockey Association.
In the novice and atom age groups (ages 10 and under), six of the eight Chill teams made the Hockey Winnipeg finals, Dufour said, with five category wins and one second place, which was only by virtue of the fact both teams in the final were from St. Vital in the atom A1 group.
Of the eight Chill teams this past season — the novice A1 girls were first in league play, and city champions; the novice A2 girls were first in league play, and lost in the playoffs; the novice A3 girls were first in league play, and city champions; the Chill white atom A1 girls were first in league play, and city champions; the Chill red atom girls were second in league play, and city finalists; the Chill red atom A2 girls were first in league play, and lost in the playoffs; the Chill white atom A2 girls were second in the league, and city champions; and the atom A3 girls were first in league play, and city champions.
Dufour, who lives in St. Vital, said there are three major reasons for the success of the Chill program.
"Firstly, it’s an amazing group of coaches and volunteers," he said. "Whether it’s coaches, assistant coaches, or team managers — they’re not just bringing their knowledge of the sport or their coaching ability, they also bring a love of the game, and a passion they can share with their daughters."
"Secondly, it’s about the girls themselves — they eat, sleep, and breathe hockey. They’re so dedicated to the sport. And thirdly, it’s about the developmental models that are used, which increase the skill levels of the children."
In terms of bringing some degree of parity to the sport at the grassroots level, Dufour said female youth participation in the sport continues to grow.
"As a whole, female hockey is one of the fastest-growing sports in the world. As the sport grows in Canada, the more role models young players have to look up to," Dufour said.
"As far as the Chill is concerned, specifically, we’ve created a welcoming environment where girls want to come out and put on a Chill jersey. Some of the girls have younger siblings that say they want to put on a Chill jersey before they’ve even played."
"Looking back at the last three years, I couldn’t be more proud of everyone — the girls, their parents, and all the volunteers. It’s been such a collective effort. And for me personally, I’ve been lucky to be part of this, as it’s been such a wonderful legacy."
Go online at www.stvitalhockey.ca for more information.
Community journalist — The Lance
Simon Fuller is the community journalist for The Lance. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org Call him at 204-697-7111