PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — In Portland sports, soccer may be king, but a local hockey club is in a league of its own.
At the Winterhawks Skating Center in Beaverton, dozens of girls learned skills to take the rink at a unique summer camp. The kids learned skills, play games and have fun ahead of the Rose City Hockey Club’s new season.
“Skating is the key and the more they can skate, the better off they’ll enjoy this sport,” co-founder Rose King said.
“Really, our core mission at its heart is teaching girls to be strong and confident and learn to believe in themselves and if they try hard and work hard and apply themselves, then they can be awesome hockey players on any team, coed, all girls whatever,” King said.
King co-created the club 6 years ago and it’s still the only all-girls program in Oregon.
“It seemed like if we could build it, they would come,” King said. “It’s hard to believe in this day and age and that’s the case.”
Girls like Dalia Samouilidis make up the fastest-growing youth hockey group in the country.
“There aren’t a ton of girls in Portland and when we see one and we’re playing with one, it’s an automatic friendship,” Dalia said.
She first picked up a stick when she was 11 and is one of a few who also plays on a boys team.
“It’s just like little things that make me want to play even better to prove that like we are just as good as them,” Dalia said.
Olympic medalist Lindsey Fry helps hammer that message home.
“I always tell kids ‘success is in the journey’ and what I learned throughout mine, whether we got gold or silver really didn’t matter,” Fry said. “I’m super proud to have this and that was the day I decided, you know, that’s what I want to be for another girl so she can reach her dreams.”
Fry played for Team USA at the Olympics in Sochi in 2014 and now coaches at camps across the country.
The lessons the girls learn go far beyond the ice.
“I can tell the women who have played sports and who haven’t,” King said.
“They understand leadership and communication skills and teamwork and being a positive force for the group.”
Last year, the Rose City Hockey Club played so well, girls on 2 out of 3 teams won their division at the biggest all-girls hockey tournament in Canada.
“Those girls came together and they just killed it and they’re playing against Canadian teams, which are tough,” King said. “It was really awesome to see them really power through and come out with the big banners and trophies.”
Hockey is expensive, but the club loans gear for free every year and there are scholarships available.
“A typical starter kit of hockey is about $120 with everything,” King said. “If I were a parent I’d be a little nervous in case she doesn’t want to continue, so to lower one of the barriers to entry is we loan out all of the gear for free for as many seasons as they need it, as they get older and advance, they start to pick up their own gear usually.”
There’s still time to sign up for this year’s season, which starts on Sept. 19.
“It’s awesome to see them by the end of the season,” King said. “They’re fearless, they’re going in, their head is up, they know safety.”
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