“I just feel like no one cares about girls hockey as much.”
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In 2013, Alaska’s Anchorage School District canceled funding for four girls’ high school hockey teams. Although the programs still had some sponsorship money, it was quickly dwindling. Their athletic and safety equipment was worn, but it didn’t need to hold out much longer because 2015 was going to be their last year on the ice. “The idea that we couldn’t find another funder is devastating for them socially,” coach O’Hara Shipe said. “It’s devastating for them academically. And I think it’s devastating for their personal growth.”
The message was plain and simple: On the athletic field, girls are not a priority in Anchorage. “I just feel like no one cares about girls’ hockey as much,” said a girl in the program. But as the girls hit the ice for what they thought was their last game, something was happening in the locker room.
In a surprise post-game ceremony, Dick’s Sporting Goods gave the community an incredible holiday present. Dick’s agreed to sponsor all four girls hockey teams through 2018. The sponsorship also includes players’ fees and new equipment. “I thought this was going to be my last year for girls’ hockey,” one of the girls said, “I’m so thankful.” Dick’s sponsorship is part of a $25 million commitment it’s making to support youth athletic programs throughout the country.