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A Tale of Two Seasons

Our 14 year old daughter is currently in her 3rd season playing coed hockey. She loves hockey and chose to play coed at after playing on an all female team and desired a higher level of competition.

Her 21-22 season initially started off with harassment from a teammate. The team’s head coach (who also happened to be her father) had implemented clear and concise rules and consequences for any harassment towards any of the athletes. Utilizing the coaching plan he had in place he was able to halt and prevent further harassment from or towards any of the other players for the rest of the season. He designed drills and planned off ice events to cultivate a culture of equality and equity for all players on the great regardless of gender. He coached 2 females on that coed team. Ultimately the season was a success and the end of season party left everyone feeling like that had gained an awesome new hockey family.

Her 22-23 season also initially started off with harassment. She attempted to confront her teammates and incorporate herself more fully into the team while following USA hockey locker room guidelines. She was met with resistance not only from the some of the players but their parents as well. Because of the things being said to her and about her she developed anxiety, depression, and an anxiety sting disorder and she is currently in therapy for treatment. As we attempted to stand up for our daughter and her rights to the organization we were met with ages old institutionalized sexism and discrimination.

Her season this year is not yet done and her love for hockey has waned as she takes each day at a time and still isn’t sure if she wants to finish out the season. As a sports parent this has been heartbreaking to watch.

I played soccer for 12 years. At one point during my soccer career myself and 4 other female athletes played on our middle school boys soccer team because we did not have a girls soccer team. I endured much of the same harassment even getting into a physical altercation with one of my harassers. This was in the late 90s, before the internet and social media was accessible at a click and added a terrifying dynamic.

As a former athlete I am outraged and dismayed that not much has changed in the last 25 years to bring equality and respect to female athletes in male dominated sports.

This was the spark to start an initiative to educate the public and institute best practices for coed sports so that in the next 25 years we can say that so much as changed for the better.

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