A minor hockey coach in northern B.C. has found a way to keep the hockey spirit alive during the pandemic.
Theresa Hodson Philips, minor hockey coach for an all girls team in Vanderhoof, reached out to former Olympians and is organizing a virtual meeting between prominent hockey players and current minor hockey teams across the province.
“Hockey ended March 12. We didn’t get to go for provincials. As time went on, we realized we were not getting back into it anytime soon. There is going to be no camp. Nothing. It just ended so quickly,” Philips said.
To keep players engaged in the sport, Philips said she started looking for ideas and stumbled upon a teacher at a local school who had been doing story-time with her students online. “The teacher initially thought if she had five kids join in, then it gives those kids something to do. But she had 95 percent of kids join in. It was so interactive and fun.”
Philips said that idea of a virtual meeting resonated with her. The minor hockey coach has volunteered at Wickfest for many years, and she reached out to former Olympians she had connected with at the event and said they were all ‘very receptive’ of the idea. Wickfest is a female hockey festival and in 2020, it was held in Surrey.
“Girls don’t get the opportunity to talk to an Olympian. They don’t get to turn on the TV and see these women doing their thing,” Philips said, adding she had a few players lined up to do an interactive session with the players.
Rebecca Johnson, Olympic medalist and a member of the women’s national hockey team in Canada is the first player who will be on the virtual meeting on June 25, Philips said. Other players will be announced closer to the date, to keep the surprise factor alive for minor hockey participants, she said.
Philips said currently there are about 20 young hockey players from Vanderhoof and Clearwater who are going to be on the virtual meeting, but there is room for a lot more. A total of 251 people can be on the meeting and Philips said she is using the GoToMeeting software by Microsoft for this purpose.
“We have a couple of Olympians on board. One wants to do an interactive work out, one wants to share some recipes with girls to keep them engaged mentally and physically. For an hour, every other week, they can sign in and talk to their heroes. I am excited for it,” Philips said.