CIS universities need to do more to retain top female hockey players in Canada

March 12, 2012

At the women's hockey summit over the weekend, some 50 coaches and sport administrators addressed why the majority of Canada's best players still attend US institutions. Although the CIS women's hockey system has made huge strides since 1997, much more is needed if Canadian universities want to retain the best homegrown talent here, says former national women's team head coach Melody Davidson. Not every CIS school has a full-time head coach, which, along with the lack of paid assistant coaches, is a concern. Visibility is key, stresses Davidson, whether that means logo identification, information about a university hockey program, or, crucially, facts about funding options of which many athletes and parents remain unaware. A University of Alberta coach says limited resources at Canadian institutions mean coaches have to be creative with strategies with respect to academic schedules and course loads. One mechanism is already in place, notes Davidson; the 5-year eligibility rule at CIS institutions enables athletes to manage their course load differently from their US counterparts, for whom the eligibility limit is 4 years. Edmonton Journal