B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

Donated hockey equipment is shown in Vancouver high school hockey coach Todd Hickling’s basement in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Hickling

Donated hockey equipment is shown in Vancouver high school hockey coach Todd Hickling’s basement in a handout photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Hickling

A hockey coach in Vancouver says cost shouldn’t be a barrier to trying out Canada’s national winter sport.

Todd Hickling put out calls through his network asking for donations of used hockey gear so that any girl at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary School could join the team.

“One of the reasons that a lot of players don’t get to experience what it’s like to play hockey is the cost,” he said.

Hickling says he has been overwhelmed by the support of the community, which has made enough donations to create a “gear library” and ensure the fees are covered for the fledgling team.

“Girls come in who don’t have equipment, we fit them with used hockey gear that’s just right for them, and that removes one of the large barriers,” he said.

The school’s parent advisory council raised enough money to cover the team’s fees and Abbie’s Sport Shop also donated new “jills,” which are groin protectors and cost $50 each alone, he said.

The Tupper Tigers, who are in Grades 8 through 12, hit the ice for the first time last week and are preparing for their first game in January as one of eight teams in a high school league.

Hickling, who has two kids at the school, says he believes there should be more opportunities for “late beginners” to try out the sport, especially girls who often have fewer opportunities to play.

“I’m excited to get the season started and see what we can do. We’ve been on the ice twice and it was fantastic, the girls who can play can mentor the girls who are just learning,” he said.

“Some are learning basic skating skills, others can skate a bit and are learning stick and puck skills. It’s nice to see everybody working together.”

Read more: Former NHL’er dishes on life after hockey

Read more: Local firm steps up to help Penticton hockey player’s fundraiser

Amy Smart, The Canadian Press

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