California hockey program keeps kids on the street

Good news for girls in more ways than one.

Published May 9, 2007 6:42PM (EDT)

When I started playing ice hockey more than a decade ago, many people who saw me lugging my gear around assumed it must have been Take Your Boyfriend's Equipment to Work Day. Of course, women have been playing ice and street/roller hockey for years, starting much younger than I did. But only recently has women's or girls' hockey really been seen (outside sports programs) as a matter of course -- and I'm always happy to see the press treat it that way, too. Nice little case in point on a day, so far, of heavy posts: a piece in the Santa Rosa/Sonoma, Calif., Press Democrat about a kids' street hockey program at a Petaluma housing complex once blighted by gang violence. Today, the primary danger is the preteens' slap shot. Word is that the program, founded and by John van Wyk, a former Canadian minor leaguer and resident, has kept the local kids on the street, in a good way. Me, I just appreciated the fact that while the piece mentioned that the group is especially popular with girls, it treated their presence as, appropriately, unremarkable. No questions about how they like playing with boys, no observations that "even the girls" like the "rough and tumble" sport. Also, no puns. ("Chicks with sticks," etc.) Hat trick!

By Lynn Harris

Award-winning journalist Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel "Death by Chick Lit" and co-creator of She also writes for the New York Times, Glamour, and many others.

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