Girls Can't Play...

Updated on September 18, 2014
C.S. asks from Saint Louis, MO
10 answers

My 8 year old made the all boys travel hockey league, but she is a girl. She made the first cut. Originally added to the roster as a goalie and then asked to skate out after another goalie was added. I thought it would be a lot, but said if she makes the team, she earned it.

Tryouts took place in May of this year. Last week, my husband got a call from the coach that she was no longer on the team, but could still practice with them.

I called the owner and he spoke first, offering that they have said that the parents want this more than she does, that she was unfocused, and does not have the temperament to play competitive hockey. I explained that another parent gives us a hard time about my husband pushing her to play, but she is there because she wants to be and I ignore that man. He asked if I thought she was ready to be on the team in my opinion and I told him that it is a development team, she has her strengths and weakness' just like every other kid out there. I explained that the same parent drops the F bomb in front of children and tells the kids that their team for the color jersey they are wearing SUCKS! He is a parent/coach and is sometimes on the ice. I am sure he took note of this, but didn't acknowledge it. He asked if I had told her yet and I said no because I don't know what I can say to her.

This is a kid that has made it early or on time to EVERY practice. She goes to extra training and has never caused any problems. Sometimes I see the kids doing push ups and I ask if she caused that and she says no. She works just as hard as every kid out there. I hear the coaches say her name, listen up, only to find they are giving her props for doing a good job. I know she is not a superstar out there and have never made that claim.

We skipped the practice that night, but told my husband that we would take her to a lesson the next day. I knew it would be uncomfortable, but I didn't want to just walk away. We go in and the owner says he sent us an email and it says that they met with the coaches and his brother the owner and she cannot play. They would however, give her 5 free lessons to try to bring her up to speed on their skate treadmill. If she can get to speed, she can be added to the game roster. He also said they would give us our money back, $750.00, which we have not seen yet.

After reviewing a million and one thoughts, the new hockey director did sit down with me about 3 weeks ago and said a few things that make sense. He said, he would like to get a girls team together with pink jersey's. He asked how she started playing and asked me if my husband got her started. I told him no that she asked for a hockey stick when she was 5. He said that this stuff is political and asked if I knew that. My thought at the time, were that the 2 rinks get political because they do. They can't stand each other. However, I said yes and cut that conversation short. I don't care to get involved in the middle of that stuff.

When I spoke to the owner on the phone, he was surprised that we had talked and asked what the meeting was about. I told him it wasn't a meeting that the rink was dead and he had just sat down and began to talk to me when my daughter was in a figure skate lesson. Anyway, he was interested to know what our conversation was.

So now what to do. We told our daughter last night that the coaches want to see her work harder and are waiting to add her to the game roster until she improves. (That breaks my heart) We gave her the option of trying out for the other team and she said no. We asked if she just wanted to play house league and she said no. We gave her the option to quit figure skating and she said no, not until she finishes this level. I am pissed to say the least. I hate to stay there, but I also don't want to tell her that they don't want her there and probably will never add her back on the list. She has been at that rink since she was 5 years old. She will be 9 next month. There is one more rink in town, which would be fine, but she doesn't want to go there and I think they are all boys too. I thought I would tell her that I can't afford that rink any longer and tell her she had to move, but then she really doesn't want to. I also have my stubborn streak that says screw you to the men/man who doesn't want a girl on the team...even though I have clearly lost the battle.

Now that the weather is starting to cool down, we picked up a tennis schedule, but she wants to play hockey. She can't go on a swim team for 2 more years. She is in the church choir already and other than that is not the "talent show" type.

I need help handling my emotions. Of course, I will be there for every one of her practices, in support of her, and to make sure no one bothers her. How would you handle this? I've got the anger down, I need help with making this okay.

What can I do next?

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So What Happened?

This was so long already, but here is a little background: The owner's daughter is a girl, goalie, who I believe is in college or done. The owners are brothers, there may be 3 or 2 of them. The one owner admitted that they screwed up and should have said something a long time ago. (Okay, it happens, but still not the problem) He owns 3 business' and unfortunately doesn't know my daughter or how she skates. Once I shook his hand and introduced myself, he said he sees us there all the time. He says his brother, the owner, made the decision, along with the coaches. And, the coach had an accident in early July and only made it to two practices, he is still recovering. In my opinion, the owner took the coaches word, and both coach and director were not there, so they took a parents words. A parent that clearly does not want girls in the game. There are other girls on the travel teams, they are older, and 2 out of 3, have dads that are coaches there. The director is new as of this summer.

(I don't think I mentioned this dad goes in the locker rooms looking for jerseys so that he can change the teams to boy/girl teams in house league...and the girls WIN!)

In figure skating, you cannot join certain clubs or go to certain classes until you have reached a certain level. I get it. But, you know you are at that level, when you receive the pass the test.

In this case, you try out, you make the cut or you don't. No, there was never a guarantee she would be on the team and there was never anything said that you could be cut if you are no longer needed. Nothing was said, her name was just added to the B list (developmental team) and they accepted our money and took her jersey measurements.

Today she went to dry land training and I watched. As previously mentioned, I saw 2 groups, which they separated them by the better half and the half that I think needs more developing. (I am not a coach, just my opinion) Yes, my daughter missed the puck a few times, she ran after it and got it right back in the game. Another kid missed the puck a lot more times, he walked to get the puck and the game stopped, while they waited. As well, other kids missed the puck, but the kid in the green shirt today, really stood out. Then there was a kid in a yellow shirt who showed up 10 minutes late, walked, was not concerned with rushing since he was late and never appeared to be in the game. The green shirt kid, did fantastic on the long shot pass from one side of the rink to the other. My daughter, not so good, but when the coach stopped and corrected her, it went right where it was suppose to go. Other kids, hit and miss. At rotation, now at jump roping, the yellow shirt kid was skipping, kicked the rope after 3 skips, wrapped it around his head, and then started over. He had a good time doing it, but still not in the game. After practice, my daughter pointed out the football sled and said she had to move it from point A to B. "Could you" I asked. "Yep, but not everyone some kids needed help", she said.

I wouldn't be upset if I didn't think that she has the same potential as the others. Nope, she is not a superstar and neither are the rest of them, in the group of 6 she was in. Oh and 11 out of 16 showed up. I find it funny that they would allow her to practice with the team, if she were truly unfocused.

In response to a few questions, she will be 9 in 4 weeks, she is 4"10", weighs over 100 lbs, and is solid. This level does not allow checking yet, but they are learning to knock each other down. She knocks them down all the time. Many of these kids are a foot smaller and about half her weight. Their parents are asking me for tips on how to get them to eat right because their kid can't even finish a slice of pizza.

Yes, I strongly feel the decision was based on the fact that she is a girl. If it wasn't, there should have been a few more kids that should have been told the same thing. They were overlooked. I will never point these kids out, but it is CLEAR.

**Since my last post, they have refunded all of our money and allow her to practice with the team. The travel team practices and plays with the house league. There are 4 teams and one is comprised of a lot of the travel team and my daughter plays on a team comprised of mostly girls and 2 other travel players. One is the goalie, as she gave up her goalie spot and chose to skate out. She is continuing to stay in the team by her choice and is fighting this by not going away. She is very aware of how unfair this was on her own. I have talked to her about it, but keep my opinion to myself.

***We are now in the same season and the rink put together a predominately girls team, however, still coed to play a tournament against an all girl team. There are not enough girls in our area to go all girls. Our daughter was included and they won not only the tournament, but every game. As well, the house league team she played on, which was a near joke, actually came in second place.

She was also recently included in a tournament with the travel team that she practices in. She got plenty of ice time, as from what I heard was that they had 4 boys crying on the bench and she was willing to go back out there. This was unfortunately A teams they played, while they are a B team. They will go to another tournament in a couple of weeks, I don't think she is included, but she insists on continuing to work with them to try to play. As for the superstar player, their scores are posted on line and half of the team are not near a superstar player, although as a team, they win a lot.

Featured Answers



answers from Dallas on

I don't know how hard it would be to start a unisex league or team, but it may be worth looking into.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Boston on

A girls' team with pink jerseys is incredibly offensive and sexist. Yes things will get better for girls in sports "some day" but only if enough people make a stink and fight for it.

If the director feels that your daughter is being pushed by you parents and that she is too unfocused to handle the pressure, that's a legitimate concern whether the player is a boy or a girl.

If they are saying this because no one can figure out how to handle a girl in the locker room, that is NOT okay. If some father dropping the F Bomb and getting pissed that some deserving boy is not getting a shot because your daughter is occupying a "boy's" slot, that's not okay.

If she made the first cut but not the second, then that's the way sports are. It seems to me that 9 is awfully young for the competition of tryouts and cuts and travel - boys or girls. I also think it's pretty young to put kids into a whole bunch of scheduled activities. So I'd be cautious about over-enrolling her in tennis, choir, swim figure skating and too many other things, with lessons on top of practices.

I wouldn't lie to her and tell her that you can't afford it. That makes YOU the source of her deprivation. You tell her she was cut and you start teaching her to handle disappointment. You wait to see what she wants to enroll in, but you don't hurry up and put her into something so she'll forget about hockey.

I think you might start with finding out the policies from whatever organization governs this team and state laws about gender discrimination in children's sports. Get your ducks in a row first. You can document your concerns in a very carefully worded letter to the owner and the director. Be sure that there's nothing that sounds at all like you and your husband want this more than she does. Did you ask him specifics when he said this is all "political"?? Did he mean his decision is based on politics? That's a huge admission that they are not making independent decisions. You might comment that the championship Little League team with the girl pitcher is really pretty happy that they were broadminded enough to look at talent. But if your daughter doesn't have the talent yet, you have to allow her time to develop and show what she's made of.

Taking your money and walking away from the rink in a huff (though understandable) just takes the problem away from them so they don't have to deal with it, and it shows that your family is not dedicated enough to ice sports. you won't teach them a lesson - you will just confirm their biases. If she doesn't want to be a part of it, fine.

If you don't get satisfactory answers, you might consider a letter to the editor of the paper asking why they want to set up a girls team in all pink and what that says about their view of girls. Do NOT make it about your daughter individually.

12 moms found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

When you signed her up for this team, you had to register with the USA Hockey Association. I know here in the hockey mecca of Detroit, we must register. If you did register, I would call them and let them know what happened. They may be able to help you. That is where I would go if I were in your shoes. Here's what I know about travel:

My son is a goalie on a travel hockey team. Travel hockey can been very political because of the higher skill level and costs involved. House is way more laid back and not as political. There is quite a bit of butt kissing and brownie nosing between coaches and parents at the travel level. We were told when we joined this team, that if my son isn't performing at travel level, he will be replaced. That is how it works. At 9, she is a squirt, right? Usually, at squirt level, many leagues keep boys separate from girls...and they should. Boys play much different than girls. I would not want my daughter abused by boys at this age. Males on ice can be brutal. That's just me, though. Like I said, parents pay big bucks for their kid to play travel. If there is a kid on the team who a few parents or teammates dislike, they will weed that player out. I have seen it happen many times. Welcome to the world of travel hockey...either you are in or you are out.

If she truly loves hockey, she shouldn't mind playing house. My son will play on a house team in a heartbeat if he were to lose his travel spot. That's how much he loves to play hockey. Some ice time is better than none.

I hope things work out for you and your daughter. Sports should be fun at 9, not a bunch of drama.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

You need to step back and take a really deep breath. There are some sports that at this point in time are still basically mens / boys sports. Will they eventually come to be women / girl sports yes they will. And it will take a lot of parents like you who are willing to let your child play a competitive rough sport. But at this point hockey is not one of the sports that is really available to women. They have told you she is cut from the team. That is life. It happens. She will be cut from many different competitive teams in her life. Why would you tell her to work harder when they have said she is through here? you are setting her and yourself up for an upsetting confrontation when she is told by another player or adult that she is cut from the team. Let it go and move on. And when the womens / girls team is set up who cares what color the jersey is let her play on that. And step out of the angry mama bear and make the decision that has already been made by the team. stop taking her to practices. just say you are sorry but she has been cut. explain that it happens all the time. use football as an example if you need to. oh and go and demand your money back.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

I'm sorry that happened. My son is on the travel hockey team, and we prepared him beforehand and let him know he would play in the house league if he didn't make the team. We have a coed team, and one of his best friends is a girl on the team. I would ask them what they recommend for your daughter and try to get her to continue to play in the house level for now. I would also look into private lessons if she is determined to get on the travel team. She can get her skills up to speed and try again next year.

I hope she doesn't give up on the sport because of this. I also hope they take the girls as seriously as the boys. In our league, they treat them the same at the Squirt level. If you suspect that they are discriminating, you will need to fight this. However, if it is a political thing, it's hard to fight. We are steering clear of drama, but I could totally see it happening. When you have coaches who are dads of the kids, it's hard to avoid all drama. I suspect there is a ton of preferential treatment.

If it was about skill, it doesn't sound like they handled this well at all. There should have been a period of time when they let you and your daughter know that she needed to step it up. Then they should have offered some additional help in the form of private lessons or exercises you can do with her. To blindside you wasn't right.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Jacksonville on

I am enraged! A "girl's team" with PINK jerseys?! How incredibly sexist!!! If your daughter can perform all the requirements just like any of the boys, she should be allowed to play! I'm in Florida, so hockey isn't a big thing, but girls are allowed to play on the baseball team and the football team just like the boys. I know your daughter REALLY wants to play, but even if they eventually let her on the team, do you think they give her ice time during the games? I'd bet they don't. I'd tell them to take their pink jersey and shove it where the sun don't shine!

ADDED: I think Sherry is right about letting this one go. If you tell her to keep trying to get on the travel team, I think you're setting her up for disappointment at this point. Sherry, the reason that it matters about the girls team and the pink jerseys is because it's so stereotypical and ridiculous. If there were a girls travel team readily available, of course she should play on that. It would be a better match for her. But there's not, so if she meets all the requirements and wants to play with the boys, why not?!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Tampa on

It looks like you have two issues here. You readily admit that your daughter is not a superstar player, but works extremely hard. To me, it really comes down to why your daughter was cut from the team. Was it because her skill level is not up to par for the traveling team or was it because she is female?

If it is because of her skill level, then I don't think that there is much you can say to the coaches. It is up to your daughter to work hard and build her skill levels. That being said, I think that it is a total cop out for the coaches not to tell her that she is cut from the team. They should have the common decency to own their decisions and explain them to her in a tactful way. If this is the case, then you should be very pointed in your questions to the coaches about her skill level. Do they ever see her playing on a traveling team? Does she has potential? Based on what you have said here, it appears that this is more about skill level than anything else.

If it truly is a case of her being female, then I would make holy hell rain down on them for their ignorance. I would again have a pointed conversation and make them squirm. What are the rules of the league? If the rules do not prohibit females from playing, then I would push it from that end. I would caution you that if you go this route, your daughter has to be way better than the boys in skill level. You will ruffle some feathers...better make sure that your daughter can handle the negative attention...

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

so what is your conclusion that 'girls can't play' based on? the pink jersey guy? that was a stupid thing for him to say, but that was one comment in a whole ocean of feedback that your daughter isn't ready for this particular league.
i certainly hope you don't tell her that 'they don't want her.'
it sounds like this is something she wants that isn't going to work out. i guess there's a not-unnatural tendency to want to blame it on 'the other dad' or the new hockey director, but it doesn't sound as if you're willing to even consider the possibility that maybe the coaches (plural) are looking out for your daughter.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Reno on

This may be too little, too late, but I don't think it's your responsibility to tell your daughter. If the coach/league made this decision they should have to look your daughter in the eye and tell her themselves. You should be there for support when they tell her, and let her know that she can ask them any questions she'd like. I think that by having you tell your daughter it removes the "messiness" for them and makes it easy for them and hard on you.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Houston on

I know there are Lifetime movies made about this such topic, but I am not a fan of girls in boys sports..

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