For the first time ever, Strathmore and Wheatland County will have an all-female hockey association. The Wheatland Wranglers will play their inaugural 2023/24 season with players from many communities like Strathmore, Chestermere, Siksika, Indus, and more.
Director of the Wheatland Wranglers Hockey Association Lisa Hempel-Wurz explained this idea was a long time coming. With several free girls' skate days to drum up interest leading up to this announcement, Hempel-Wurz said it's extremely exciting to finally bring a girls' hockey league to our communities.
"It's so gratifying to see all the hard work that everybody's put in with all of our volunteer hours to drum up all this excitement that's coming into our new hockey world here. We're super excited, we've been talking about this for quite some time and it's just awesome that we are able to put it all together now," she said.
Working with the Strathmore Minor Hockey Association (SMHA), the Wranglers will offer U9 to U18 teams. Hempel-Wurz says being able to offer girls the option to play is really important, as the option never existed to begin with before. Girls often played with the boys for younger ages, but once the girls got older they either had to switch to ringette, take long drives to communities like Okotoks, or simply drop out of playing.
"We're creating a place for our girls to come and play together and to play the great game with their own peers in their own backyard, they're given more options that there haven't been before. From my own experience, my daughter actually played last year in Okotoks because we did not have that female program, and she enjoyed it so much that we were trying to bring it back into our own backyard."
Given that the teams will be made up of several surrounding communities, Hempel-Wurz explained games and practices will be based out of Strathmore and/or Chestermere. This would be done on a team-by-team basis; for example, if the U9 team is players entirely from Wheatland County all operations would take place in Strathmore, but if the U11 team is an even split between Wheatland County and Rockyview County players operations would be split between Chestermere and Strathmore.
"We're trying to make it more central so that they're not going to have to travel an hour to Hussar to have a game when potentially they could only have to drive 20 minutes to Strathmore or Chestermere.
Registration opens on May 15, with the season starting at around the first week of November. Leading up to the season opener the teams will have evaluations taking place in late August or early September. There will also be additional free skates held during the summer in June, July, and August for anyone interested, which will be open to all players regardless of experience or skill level. No official dates are set yet, but Hempel-Wurz noted the June skate will be in Chestermere.
For more information on the Wranglers and to register, you can visit their website at wheatlandwranglers.ca