At a certain age, around 9 or 10, kids become more aware of their surroundings and girls in particular no longer want to suit up for hockey in the same locker room used by the boys.
Kenai Peninsula Hockey Association board member, coach and dad Terry Eubank says that's why a new changing room was built recently outside the ConocoPhillips/City of Kenai Multipurpose Facility.
The 12 by 20-foot building is in addition to the four locker rooms already at the multipurpose facility, but the new one is exclusively for the girls.
"When the girls are younger, they change (into their hockey gear) right alongside the boys, but as the girls get a little older, they go get dressed in the girl's rest room," Eubank said.
Because the female enrollment of KPHA hockey players is now approximately 20 percent of the 300 players, the association's board decided something needed to be done.
"We approached the Kenai Lions and they donated $1,500 towards materials to build the girls' locker room," Eubank said.
"The Kenai Moose Lodge put in a couple hundred dollars for a door; (Councilman) Mike Boyle's vocational ed. program did the construction; and the city poured the cement for the pathway," Eubank said.
The city also provided the lights and heater, which should be installed by this weekend, as well as rubber matting to protect the girls' skates and lumber for benches, which were built by two Kenai Central High School seniors who used the project to meet a volunteerism requirement.
Eubank said he is most impressed by the entire community coming together to build the changing room needed to help the girls in the KPHA program.
Having been involved with the association since an early age as a youth hockey player himself, Eubank said he has seen the program change from having just a couple of girls playing while he was in high school to having about 60 girls in the program today.
"In the last five years, we've seen girl enrollment triple," he said.
Although professional opportunities are all but nonexistent for female hockey players -- only one woman played goalie for a game or two in the National Hockey League -- Eubank said the sport is becoming more accommodating for women.
Female hockey competition has reached the NCAA Division I level and exists as a Winter Olympics sport.
"All of our programs are co-ed," Eubank said of KPHA hockey.
In addition to contributions from community organizations and the city and help from the school district, Eubank said KPHA board members and other association parents chipped in to get the changing room built for the girls.
KPHA participation is open to the entire central Kenai Peninsula, he said.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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