Lady Ducks, THE RINKS bridge divide from trying hockey to playing hockey
You don’t have to convince Calien Gorsuch and Izzy and Grace Lynch about how effective a Girls Try Hockey for Free Day can be.
The trio has gone from trying hockey to playing it at the AA level for the Anaheim Lady Ducks in a few short years – Gorsuch at 14U and the Lynches at 12U.
They were three of the most enthusiastic volunteers at this fall’s event, which drew more than 100 girls on Oct. 7, said Kathy McGarrigle, the Lady Ducks program director, a coach of multiple teams and the club’s 12U ADM coordinator.
The unprecedented demand at three THE RINKS venues, both ice (Lakewood and Poway) and roller (Irvine), provides further encouragement about where the girls sport is headed in California.
“It was a big eye opener to see more than 100,” McGarrigle said. “We’ve had that many at a Girls Try Hockey Day, so that was exciting.
“I always hope our (Lady Ducks) will give back, and even though several teams were out of town at tournaments, we had 23 say they were available. That’s inspirational to see them really wanting to help.”
It’s one thing to introduce girls to the game, but another to hold their attention. McGarrigle estimates the retention rate typically is between 20-30 percent.
When parents ask, “What’s next?” the Lady Ducks and THE RINKS have a combination of programs to answer that. One is the Lady Duck in Training program. THE RINKS have several hockey initiation programs.
“I ran out of little kids’ jerseys for our Lady Duck in Training sessions,” McGarrigle said. “It’s a tag-on to the club. Girls who are nine or 10 and starting to play, probably will practice with our 8U teams and go to our 8U ADM clinics so they can gain a basic understanding. They’re excited about being able to play sooner because there are girls teams they can join and practice with.”
As the opening of Great Park Ice in Irvine nears, the LDs plan to expand their training clinics for 8U and 10U girls.
“To have so many girls interested in learning to play was unfathomable four years ago,” McGarrigle said. “To have all this interest is really motivating because we see more evidence of the girls game growing.
“You can see the effects all over Southern California, from San Diego to Los Angeles, in addition to our club.”
— Chris Bayee
(Nov. 29, 2018)