Ice hockey is one of the most played sports by youth in Canada, and over the past twenty years, female participation rates in hockey have increased by nearly 900% (Hockey Canada, 2005; 2009). However, despite female involvement in the sport, much controversy still remains for women crossing the gender line of ‘malestream’ (Hall, 1996) hockey. The goal of this paper is to use a case study to offer information about the dynamics of female youth hockey in terms of team play, parental interaction in the stands, and youth and parental commentary about their experiences. Through video and researcher observations, extensive field notes, and interviews, the context of female hockey was examined. Results revealed that female hockey may indeed be an environment that provides a unique experience for players. Four overarching themes emerged: 1) rule differences; 2) seriousness; 3) positive parental support; and 4) emphasis on team play and social relationships.
The authors are with the Dept. of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.