The most recent induction ceremony for the Hockey Hall of Fame took place on Monday November 18, 2019. Included in the class of 2019 was Hayley Wickenheiser. Hayley Wickenheiser has paved the way for many female hockey players and is well deserving of this honour. She has been a long-time advocate for female hockey and has had an amazing career and is simply an amazing athlete and role model for young girls. In connection to this, she made a very impactful acceptance speech when she was inducted.
In the speech she talked specifically about the challenges that she and many other girls had to face while growing up trying to play hockey. She specifically talks about a time that she remembers going to a hockey school, that was meant for boys, and the only place she was allowed to sleep was in a closet. She then discusses how people did not like it when she started to get better because she was taking the spot of the boy on a more competitive team. She developed an ulcer because she would have to get changed in the bathroom and then walk across the lobby in front of the parents and spectators who would make comments to her and about her.
Wickenheiser had to go through so much just to be able to play hockey and get better at her sport, and all of this did not happen that long ago. She ends her speech by saying she is most proud about the changes that have been made since she started playing as a young girl. She is happy that young girls can walk into a rink and not be judged or questioned because they want to play hockey. An article written by Nancy Theberge reinforces the notion that there are differences within the game because of gender. Theberge’s workwas published in 1997. The experiences that Wickenheiser endured did not happen that long before that. The first year that Wickenheiser was on Canada’s National Hockey team was in 1994, and she retired from her professional career in 2017. The issue of gender in hockey is not in the far past.