How can Squamish women learn hockey?

The Squamish Women’s Hockey Academy will start new sessions for beginners and intermediate players on November 3rd.

Growing up in Canada means learning hockey through osmosis, but most Squamish women have probably never stepped on the ice in hockey skates.

But that’s easily fixed with the Squamish Adult Women’s Hockey Academy having a new session Wednesday nights November 3-17.

The academy, founded and run by Squamish locals and hockey veterans Evelyn Schellenberg and Katie Jones, includes a 101 beginner course.

Organizers say it is the first hockey skills development program offered by women for women in the city.

For beginners, Head Coach Jones focuses on developing introductory skills like skating, shooting and passing, as well as learning the rules and fundamentals of the game.

Even if women have only worn figure skates before — or have never skated before — they can feel comfortable taking this class, Schellenberg said.

This is for any woman who wants to come out and try it, she said.

“Our head coach, Katie Jones, is a day teacher. She is passionate about passing on her hockey knowledge organically. So when people sign up and have only figure skating experience or no skating experience at all, we teach them the basics of skating, we teach them edge control.”

The program is designed to get newcomers ready to play in a fun and safe environment, while also giving them the opportunity to network with other local women, Schellenberg said.

There is also an Intermediate Skills course for women with hockey experience who want to take their game to the next level.

The focus of this class is on power skating techniques, puck control, passing and shooting in a faster environment.

Women feel more comfortable being coached by other women, Schellenberg said, and the academy is a nonjudgmental, welcoming, and supportive environment in which to learn the sport or hone skills.

For Schellenberg, 43, her passion for hockey started young — really young — around the age of four.

Although her mother originally sent her to ballet, which she hated, she became obsessed with watching her goalie brother play hockey and begged her mother to let her play.

She did, and Schellenberg has never looked back.

“It was great. I played for Team BC in my high school years and helped found the Squamish Women’s Hockey League here, and I’ve played on the same hockey team in North Van for 20 years,” she said.

She’s a goalkeeper, just like her brother.

“It takes a certain type of person to get drilled with pucks,” Schellenberg said, laughing.

“I’ve always loved playing hockey in general. I also play forward now and of course I play on the net. Being a goalkeeper is my passion and always my favorite thing to do.”

She started the academy in 2020 because she’s seen so much growth in Squamish and wants the opportunities to keep up with that population growth, she said, particularly for girls and women.

“Not having to go into town or into Whistler to play,” she said. “We wanted to create a safe and fun environment for local women to push themselves, do something different while having a few laughs with ladies who are all starting at the same level,” Schellenberg said, adding that she have met many women who have sons or husbands who play and are interested but have been intimidated into joining the Squamish Women’s Hockey League running Sunday night.

“They want to show their sons that mom is an asshole, too,” Schellenberg said.

A league of its own

The final is the start of a girls’ league, said Schellenberg.

A school-age girls-only academy is planned for this spring to make this dream a reality.

“I’m hoping that maybe this will cause a stir when people talk to their daughters and say, ‘Are you interested in doing this?’

Schellenberg Academy business partner Jones is also a Squamish native and is known for her achievements in ice hockey.

She grew up playing hockey on boys’ teams.

She received a fullride scholarship in NCAA Division 1 for Wayne State and played for a year in the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL).

“She’s a huge success story from Squamish in hockey, especially as a woman,” Schellenberg noted.

The Academy’s mission is to encourage women to step out of their comfort zone and try something new.

“We have so much growth in this community, I was born and raised here so I’ve seen everything happen here and that we can have programs here for our girls and women here, that’s unheard of, so we’re very passionate about it,” said Schellenberg.

So far, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, Schellenberg said.

“People love it,” she said. “We’re just having fun out there.”

Sessions cost $150.

For more information, visit the Academy’s Facebook page or Instagram account.

Register at squamishlive.ca. For the beginner sessions, enter the barcode: #58552; for intermediate products enter barcode: #58553.

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