2023 bfl fcoty national winner julie venselaar e

Building a community around hockey

BFL Female Coach of the Year Julie Venselaar is growing hockey in Powell River, B.C., by creating opportunity for girls and women to share the ice together

Jonathan Yue
|
June 8, 2023
|

Hockey has always been a source of community for Julie Venselaar.

Playing in women’s drop-in sessions in the coastal city of Powell River, B.C., the women in the session felt there needed to be more options for girls and women to play hockey together. With no organized leagues, it was a gap that needed to be filled.

When they approached Venselaar asking if she wanted to be involved, it was a no-brainer.

“I truly believe that it is so important for girls to have an activity or sport as they head into their adolescence years,” Venselaar says. “The group created a time for these girls to come out and to be coached by women, have fun and have some girl time, and when my daughter was old enough, they asked if I wanted to join and help out, [and] I said yes.”

With girls playing integrated hockey in boys’ leagues, the sessions evolved from being just additional skates to becoming a full girls’ team, and it strengthened the game in Powell River. After eight years of coaching, Venselaar has continued to be involved in organizing and volunteering her time in on-ice activities, fostering a space for girls to play hockey together. Almost a decade later, she still feels fortunate to be able to be a part of the growth of hockey.

A full-time teacher, Venselaar is passionate about children growing up in a positive environment. That commitment to creating a community through hockey has earned Venselaar the BFL Female Coach of the Year award in the Community category.

“There’s nothing better we can give our girls and our daughters than that sense of having something to anchor them through those tricky times in life,” she says. “Part of why I do what I do is to build that community, to build that safe space around them and to surround them with good role models who are there to love and support them. Hockey is something that I know is a medium for me to do that and it’s great because it allows these amazing girls to learn skills from being a part of a team.”

But the most special part for Venselaar has been sharing her coaching journey with her daughter. As part of her prize for earning the BFL honour, Venselaar attended the gold medal game at the 2023 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Brampton, Ont., with her daughter by her side

“It was so awesome to be able to share that with my daughter,” Venselaar says. “It was so inspiring to be there, and to see it live, with the extremely talented athletes, it was amazing. The best part is that they’re amazing people, too. The players were waving to the crowd and my daughter loved it.

“We made a sign for Micah Zandee-Hart because she was the only player from B.C., and Micah came over, smiled at us before tossing my daughter a puck and it really made her day.”

At the end of the day, Venselaar wants to make sure that it isn’t just her efforts growing the game. She’s very proud of what her community has been able to do together and hopes it continues to expand.

“Our hockey community of parents, coaches, players, and more, they’re bringing it all together and supporting our girls and creating something that’s for them,” Venselaar concludes. “I am here to guide things along, but I’m just part of an amazing team that brings the community together.”

For more information:

Esther Madziya
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 284-6484 

emadziya@hockeycanada.ca 

Spencer Sharkey
Manager, Communications
Hockey Canada

(403) 777-4567

ssharkey@hockeycanada.ca

Jeremy Knight
Manager, Corporate Communications
Hockey Canada

(647) 251-9738

jknight@hockeycanada.ca

Recent News
Most Popular
Videos
Photos
HCC: One For All in Yellowknife
One For All celebrated women’s hockey with more than 300 participants.
2023-24 NWT: CAN 6 – USA 1 (Game 7)
Spooner and Maltais scored twice to lead Canada to win the series.
2023-24 NWT: CAN 3 – USA 0 (Game 6)
Maschmeyer made 27 saves for the shutout to tie the Rivalry Series.
2023-24 NWT: CAN 4 – USA 2 (Game 5)
Bell, Fast and Stacey scored late to help Canada stay alive.
Schedule