In conversation with Meg Hewings, GM of The Montreal Stars women’s hockey team
What role do sports play in the expression of Canadian cultural identities? In sports, we celebrate inclusion and common purpose, but the history of sports has been marked, much of the time, by prejudice and exclusion. From lacrosse through women’s hockey, Canadian sports have expressed collective resistance, protected endangered community traditions and been key sites of conflict over the character of Canadian society.
On Tuesday, May 5, the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC), holds a half-day symposium, Sport and Identity, to examine the complex role of sports in Canada.
Meg Hewings will be one of the event’s speakers. Hewings is the General Manager of The Montreal Stars, with theCanadian Women’s Hockey League.Winks began her hockey career at age 11 as a Leaside Angel. A McGill grad, Hewings later played varsity hockey for the McGill Martlets (#13), and one season in the women’s semi-pro circuit with the Montreal Wingstar. In addition to her work as GM of the Montreal Stars, she is the founder of The Lovely Hockey League.
Hewings took some time to share her views on women in hockey and other topics with the Reporter.
Long before you were General Manager of the Montreal Stars, you played hockey here at McGill for the Martlets. How did your time playing sports at the varsity level prepare you for what you do now?
I played varsity hockey for the McGill Martlets during an incredible growth period in the program. When I started, we sold chocolate almonds in order to fundraise for our operation’s needs, had a tiny locker-room on the opposite side from the Redmen and were lucky to get a team t-shirt. Mid-way through my varsity career, Peter Smith became the Head Coach of the program and Kim St-Pierre joined our roster. We went from losing games 14-0 to making the CIS championships in my graduating year and witnessing the renovation of the McConnell arena to better accommodate the women’s program. I was lucky to be a part of this incredible transition and to see the program flourish. As a gender studies graduate, I also developed critical faculties, was learning about the rich history of the women’s game in Quebec, and at McGill, and starting to wonder why women’s hockey lacked resources, visibility and funding. I questioned why my artist friends didn’t care about sport, and began to see hockey not only as great place to learn about myself and others, but also as a site of radical potential.
The Montreal Stars are very supportive of amateur girl’s hockey. What is your message for young girls who want to become involved in the sport, and do you think the day will ever come when women’s hockey gets as much attention as men’s does?
Most of the new growth in hockey is happening because young girls are taking up the sport in unprecedented numbers, and they love it. The Stars now offer camps, clinics and consulting services to minor hockey associations and our programs champion fun, skills development, teamwork and empowering our youth. We want young girls to grow up to be strong, confident and believe they can do anything. Every athlete in our club is an incredible ambassador for our game, most of them have been captains of their university teams and hold a degree (or two). They are juggling full-time jobs like men did in the early days of the NHL, and we are working together to build a professional league of our own. Our goal is for young girls growing up today to believe they can have a future, and a career, in hockey.
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