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Girls Playing Boys' Ice Hockey

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Angela Ruggiero,four-time Olympian and longtime U.S. Women's National Hockey Team Member, says that, while the decision is a personal one, in deciding with their daughter whether she should play on a girls' team or boys' team, parents should consider the following:

  • If her goals are to play in the Olympics or to get a scholarship from an NCAA Division One school some day, playing boy's hockey for as long as she can is to her advantage, because boy's hockey is much more competitive (in the run-up to the Vancouver Olympics, the U.S. Women's Hockey Team played against a number of high school boy's hockey teams). 

  • If her goals are to have fun (there is nothing like the comradarie, dancing, singing, and cheering on a girl's team), stay in shape, develop her skills in the women's game, where checking is not allowed, and potentially get more ice time, then girl's hockey may be best for her.

  • If at any time she starts to become intimidated by the size and strength of the boys around her (which most often happens entering puberty), it is time to switch to playing with girls.

  • A drawback to continuing to play boy's hockey in high school is that it makes it harder for her to be seen by college coaches and recruiters because coaches tend to flock to the girl's tournaments. Thus, parents may have to be a lot more proactive during her junior and senior years in high school to make sure that she is on their radar screen.

  • If she plays girl's hockey, she may need to push herself if the girls around her are not pushing her in practice so that she reaches her full potential.

  • As long as she is developing as a player and enjoying herself, there is no right or wrong answer.