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'Continue this momentum': Grindstone Award Foundation aiming to help more girls play hockey

Last Updated May 21, 2021 at 6:23 am MDT

Credit: ArtBoyMB / iStock

CALGARY (660 NEWS) — Help us help her play.

That’s been the motto of the Grindstone Award Foundation since its inception in 2014.

And now, the charity is teaming up with the National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) Goals & Dreams fund to get more girls on the ice.

“We’re so excited about this donation,” Grindstone’s president Laura Oliver explained. “The NHLPA wants to help girls’ hockey, and it’s a great fit. We’re just so excited to be able to provide that equipment to girls and their families on top of our current grants.

“Right now, we currently offer a registration grant. So that money is to go toward the registration fee, but now with this NHLPA donation, we can hook them up with a full set of equipment as well, if they need it.

“We’re really hoping we can receive the NHLPA donation for years to come and continue to remove those barriers for girls to enter the game. Hockey is not the most accessible sport financially. This is another way we’re able to help girls and get them into the pipeline.”

And the timing couldn’t be better, with professional women’s hockey set to take the spotlight in Calgary next week as the Professional Women’s Hockey Players’ Association Dream Gap Tour plays its Canadian dates.

“It’s so crucial, and it’s so important for young girls to be able to see themselves, that potential of what could be in their future,” Oliver said.

“It’s also really crucial for those potential sponsors who are hopefully bringing the PWHPA forward in the future. Those companies, organizations, those donors need to see the women on TV frequently and make them visible, so they’re not forgotten, and we can continue this momentum.”

RELATED: Calgary welcoming women’s hockey with open arms

Understandably, given the pandemic, it’s been a difficult stretch for most sports — women’s hockey in particular.

The Worlds have been cancelled two years in a row, and national team players haven’t suited up in a meaningful game in months. That trickle-down effect has been felt at the youth levels as well, but for Grindstone, it’s about resiliency and adapting to an ever-evolving situation.

“It’s been really hard,” Oliver admitted. “The first couple months of the pandemic, you would’ve heard me saying, ‘We can’t get out and do events. We can’t be in person. We can’t be on the ice.’

“We weren’t able to give those developmental opportunities as we have in the past by bringing the pro players out to work with the girls.

“And we’ve spent this year working on our structure. We’ve brought in a new VP, Jehan Jiwa. We’re currently in the process of interviewing for a wide range of roles. And we’re really focused on the long-term role that we can play in the growth of the game — setting us up for success and finding those families that need us. That’s how we’ve turned this into a positive.”

Applying for the NHLPA equipment fund is open until the end of June. Families can sign up on Grindstone’s website.