by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – It’s not uncommon to see Atom hockey players taking to the ice at the Ray McDonald Sports Centre each weekend. What is new this year is seeing one of those Atom teams entirely made up of female players. The Atom Female team are in their first season with the Sturgeon Hockey Club and the team’s manager and coaches are excited about the girls’ efforts early on.
“This is the first year for an all-girl team for the Sturgeon Hockey Club,” Kluss said, adding the team is primarily made of nine- and 10-year-old players; however, they currently have three eight-year-old players this year. “They have tried to pull a team together and almost had enough, so they pulled three girls up from the Novice Division.”
The girls had four pre-season games prior to starting the regular season a few weeks ago. Kluss said she feels the team is working hard. “They are starting to play together and they are passing the puck well,” Kluss said. “They’re having a lot of fun.” That fun is not halted when the girls hit the ice against an all-boy team. Kluss explained the girls were tiered along with all the other teams and are currently playing Atom 5A and are holding their own. “In the beginning they were a little intimidated,” she said. “Now they are getting their legs together and they are playing really well against them.”
Coach Kim Edworthy agrees, adding he feels the team is coming along well since the season started. “Girls tend to want to be a little more timid when they are playing in a boys’ league, but it is starting to come along,” Edworthy said. “They are starting to battle. I think it’s always been the boys going in there for them and the girls kind of sat back when there was one or two girls on the team.” Edworthy, who can be found on the bench coaching the Morinville Jets, said the coaching style is a little different from what he is used to with the Junior B team, but he is enjoying the experience.
One of the differences is the addition of a bench mom who takes to the ice should a player become injured. Angel Palma is one of the Atom Females’ bench moms. “We have 13 girls on the team and male coaches. The bench mom will go out if someone is hurt or they need something tied or tightened,” Palma said.
Like Edworthy and Kluss, Palma is impressed with the team’s on-ice efforts. “The girls have improved fantastic,” she said. “The girls have come from not knowing how to play together to being a solid time playing together, passing, talking on the bench, working things out like a solid team. They’re tough. They’re strong. They’re trying their hardest.”
One Atom Female who is working hard is Palma’s daughter Alyssa, a player who recently took an injury for the team. “I was skating to the board and a guy pushed me and my feet hit the boards,” she said of her injury that has had her on crutches with a fractured tibia by the team’s third regular season game. Despite the injury, the younger Palma said she is enjoying playing centre for the team and playing on a team with her girlfriends that were not on her team before. That roster includes some school friends from Notre Dame Elementary School.
The Atom Females still have a lot of season left. They play their home games in Morinville on the weekends.