Hockey tournament all about ‘girl power’

150 Catholic school girls skate in annual event

Call it a league of their own.

The fifth annual all-girls hockey tournament put on by Blessed Sacrament, a Catholic elementary school near Yonge Street and Lawrence Avenue, drew 150 girls come from across the city last week.

The tournament is a means of empowering girls in grades 5–8, says school principal and tournament founder Katherine Banfield.

“We’re creating a generation of girls where we want to empower them,” she said. “We want to let them know the opportunities out there are endless.”

The Toronto Catholic District School Board gave the girls the day off on April 28 to lace up and take to the ice at Don Montgomery Arena in Scarborough.

Former Olympian and Pan Am Games bronze medalist Wendy Baker, a field hockey goalkeeper, dropped the puck to kick off the tournament. She is also a physical education teacher with the board, working at St. Gabriel in North York.

“It really is about girl power,” Banfield said.

Most schools did not have enough players to form a team, so the majority were a mix of girls from various schools across Toronto. In the end, the champions were a full team from Our Lady of Sorrows in Etobicoke.

The tournament saw girls from 29 schools participate, several of them from midtown. Among the midtown schools represented were Blessed Sacrament, St. Anselm in Leaside, St. Monica near Yonge-Eglinton and St. Bonaventure near Lawrence and Leslie.

Only 11 schools took part in the first tournament, which came out of an idea pitched by a parent after his daughter failed to make a boys’ team. He thought girls should have their own team and a tournament as well, and brought the idea to Banfield, who at the time was principal at St. Denis in the Beach.

The tournament has continued to grow, Banfield said, mostly due to volunteer efforts.

“It’s really the generosity of the parents that make this a success,” she said.

Ellen Lowden, lead organizer of this year’s tournament, said without Banfield “championing this” the event wouldn’t have happened at all.

Banfield said she’s hoping to expand the event to two tournaments — one for grades 4–6 and another for grades 7–8 — next year.


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Posted: May 4 2015 9:59 am
Filed in: Sports
Edition: Toronto
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