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This women's hockey tournament has an all-female referee crew, marking a 1st for N.L.

The Western Warriors play host to this year's U18 Female Atlantic Championship. (Submitted by Jennifer Park - image credit)
The Western Warriors play host to this year's U18 Female Atlantic Championship. (Submitted by Jennifer Park - image credit)
The Western Warriors play host to this year's U18 Female Atlantic Championship.
The Western Warriors play host to this year's U18 Female Atlantic Championship.

The Western Warriors play host to this year's U18 Female Atlantic Championship. (Submitted by Jennifer Park)

Corner Brook is set to host the 2024 U18 Female Atlantic Championship, where, for the first time in Newfoundland and Labrador, the entire officiating staff are women.

The tournament starts Thursday and gathers the top teams from each Atlantic province for games spanning four days.

"It was a very important … that we try our very best to have all female officials on the ice,"  said tournament organizer Jennifer Park. "And we were actually able to accomplish that, which is absolutely amazing."

Women from across the country were brought in to police the game — with travel expenses covered — in order to make the all-female crew possible.

"When you have females out there officiating it just makes you more comfortable, it makes you feel more at home," Park said.

Allie Hancock is the captain of the hockey team Western Warriors. She says all the referees being women is a way to show recognition of the work and dedication of female athletes.
Allie Hancock is the captain of the hockey team Western Warriors. She says all the referees being women is a way to show recognition of the work and dedication of female athletes.

Allie Hancock is the captain of the Western Warriors. (Submitted by Hockey NL.)

Suiting up for the host team Western Warriors is Allie Hancock, who sits at the helm of the club as its captain.

"It's really cool to see not only girls playing the game, but girls enforcing the rules of the game, too." she said.

Hancock said she has been playing hockey since she could remember. Her dad, a former player himself, encouraged her to get involved.

But, Hancock said, she doesn't only play to make him proud, but also because she loves how the game brings people together.

"I think it's an amazing experience, especially for some of our girls who, you know, haven't maybe left the island to play such a high level hockey before," she said.

Inspiring more options in hockey

Danielle Mills is the provincial female coordinator for officials with Hockey N.L. She will be supervising the tournament, off the ice, with her baby daughter by her side.

She said having female officials on the ice shows young women there are more career paths in hockey open to them.

"On a growth piece, I guess even if some players take interest in officiating, that can further grow our program as well, especially if they're done playing hockey," Mills said.

Danielle Mills is will be a supervisor in the tournament, where she will stand at the rink with her her baby daughter, Claire.
Danielle Mills is will be a supervisor in the tournament, where she will stand at the rink with her her baby daughter, Claire.

Danielle Mills will supervise the tournament from the stands with her baby daughter. (Submitted by Danielle Mills)

Hancock said the all-female tournament, with players and supervisors, is meaningful because it recognizes the work and dedication of female athletes.

"And even just in little Corner Brook, compared to the rest of the world, you can see the female programs just skyrocketing, which is amazing," she said.

Listen to the full interview with CBC Radio's Newfoundland Morning:

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