In hockey, ice time is a privilege and they only get 45 minutes. So Bobby-Jo Hekob starts every practice, no matter the temperature, outside the Cranbrook Memorial Arena, greeting each player. She created the female development program in 2018, following her discoveries in volunteering for Cranbrook Minor Hockey and then both the local addiction crisis center and the women’s shelter. She noticed that girls who struggled to stand up for themselves often became the women she worked with at the shelter - and that girls effectively were shut out of minor hockey. The program - first of its kind in the region - began in 2018 with a single 45-minute block of ice time. By 2021, girls enrollment in Cranbrook reached 85 players, and it shows no signs of slowing. On the ice, as well as skills, the players find self-esteem, camaraderie, friendship, validation. They belong. They matter. They feel free to fail and try again. They grow.

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