"He's A Girl..."

Abby was capable of skating at the age of three, and began carrying a hockey stick at the age of 5. At nine years of age, in 1956, after cutting her hair short, under the guise of a boy, Abigail Hoffman signed up in Toronto boy's Junior A hockey league: "Little THL" as 'Ab' Hoffman. With her crew cut, her boyish looks "and long strides on the ice, it was hard to realize that it was a girl chasing a puck" (2)

Wearing the number 6, Abby's skill gave way to being chosen to play defense for the upcoming all star game that would raise money for crippled children. However, regulations called for the players to hand in their birth certificate prior to the tournament. Coaches and managers were astounded, and the league infuriated, that the blue eyed player was in fact a girl.

"I defy anyone to pick her out as a girl when the team is on the ice," said her coach, Al Grossi. "She skates like a boy, plays aggressively, meets the players when they come in on defense."
TV interview with Abby, her mother and the coach:
http://archives.cbc.ca/sports//clips/9516

Abby learned early the difficulties that came with being a female in the sports world. She was permitted to play in the tournament but after their loss she gave up playing Junior A hockey. Abby's mother and father were wise to her being an impostor. Her mother was quoted saying,
"I think children should be out playing hockey, not watching it. And any of these sports that are good for health and teaching fair play should be good for girls as well as boys." (2)
Perhaps her mothers view on girls playing sports inspired and motivated Abby to continue on her path to being a professional athlete and prepared her for her future involvement in the administrations that govern Canadian sport.

Prior to Abby's affinity to the game of hockey she would swim at the cottage and for the Lake-shore swimming club. After her bout with hockey she continued swimming competitively for another short while before beginning her sports career in track and field.

References:
1. www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/women
2. www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/hockey/kids
3. Clip: http://archives.cbc.ca/clip.asp?IDClip=9516
4. Photo: http://fans.nhl.com/blogs/6920

1 comment:

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