It is no longer unusual to see girls play hockey.
But to have an entire league of girls-only teams? That’s rare.
That’s the Central Illinois Girls Hockey Association.
“Girls want to play hockey, said CIGHA president Doug Kent. “They haven’t had a place to play that is sustainable and committed to girls hockey. That’s what we are all about.”
The two-year-old league is based in Bloomington. It features a 10-and-under team, a 14-and-under team and a 19-and-under team.
The league attracts girls from Peoria, Pekin, Bloomington Champaign, all over central Illinois. All playing under an appropriate name, The Revolution.
“My brother started playing when he was four, I would sit in the rink and say, ‘I want to do that someday,'” said 13-year-old Avery Salmon.
That’s how many girls begin their love affair with hockey, watching an older brother play.
“I think it’s transitioning to girls not just doing it because their brothers can,” said Lauren Jones, an assistant coach with the 19U Revolution. “They really want to do this, they have friends doing it. Girls think the can do it too.”
Some of the girls on the 19U team are in college.
“Once the social pretense of doing figure skating instead of hockey is gone, more girls will get into it,” explained 19U Revolution player Abigail Greene. “Since it is more accessible, it’ll become an easier opportunity and everyone might want to try.”
For years, girls hockey players have been outnumbered and stuck playing on boys teams. But the girls playing in the CIGHA say they love being part of an all-female league for reasons on and off the ice.
Allie Salmon/Bloomington Revolution: “It’s fun because you don’t have to go into separate locker rooms with the boys to get your stuff on,” said Allie Salmon, 9, of Pekin. “You can talk to your friends while you’re getting ready, do your hair with them. It’s fun.”