The focus for Stéphanie Grenier has always been on getting more girls involved in hockey.
The mother of three has worn multiple hats for the Association hockey féminin vallée de Gatineau (AHFVG), including coach, registrar and recruiter, and her efforts earned her the BFL Female Coach of the Year Award (Community) for Quebec.
“It was a big surprise to me. I didn’t know that my association nominated me and put my name forward for the award,” says Grenier. “I was happy that my work was recognized over the years.”
The 40-year-old didn’t play the game growing up, got on the ice in her adult years and was quick to get involved when she signed up two of her daughters to play with the AHFVG.
She didn’t view herself as a “real hockey player,” but after being asked to help with her then four-year-old daughter’s team, Grenier has never stopped working with teams across the association.
“With the kids being so young they needed more coaches on the ice to help, and since I played hockey here and there, I decided to jump in and help,” she said. “The person in charge was happy to have women on the ice to set an example for the younger girls.”
Two years later, Grenier took over the Initiation (now Timbits U7) program for the AHFVG. For the past seven years she has been an assistant coach with her middle daughter’s team, supports her oldest daughter’s team, and is the head coach for her youngest daughter’s team.
Phew. That’s a lot of hockey.
On her nomination form, Sonia Bertrand, president of the AHFVG, said that Grenier is a positive role model for young girls. As the registrar and recruiter, she works hard to attract as many players as possible to promote and grow the game in Gatineau.
“I hope through the next few years, we can get more women involved with hockey. It is nice for the girls to have women on the ice with them and to have examples of hockey players in their community,” Grenier says. “It will give them a sense that they too can play university hockey or coach later in life.”
Not only does Grenier dedicate a lot of her time in recruiting girls to join the AHFVG, but she also actively looks for mothers to get involved with coaching their young daughters.
“When I learn that a mom used to play hockey when she was younger, I always try to get them involved,” she says. “I feel like some women don’t think they are good enough or whatever, but as soon as they get involved, they remember how much they enjoy being on the ice and usually stay involved.”
According to Bertrand, Grenier’s cheerfulness, energy and dedication represent all the qualities a coach must possess to help athletes progress along the path of life.
Even in the middle of a challenging season with few wins, Grenier was focused on the long-term development and little wins of each player.
“I love to see the improvements of the girls throughout the season,” she says. “I love to see them starting out and almost not being able to skate, and then at the end of the season, they make a stop – it is just so great to see,” she said. “I love being involved and seeing the girls smiling and them seeing what they are capable of doing.”
Life is busy at the rink for Grenier and her three daughters, but she wants to help grow the game in Gatineau.
“It is fun watching these girls come out of their shells as they play. It is great to see them make friends and keep playing year after year,” she says. “Hopefully, we can continue to grow our association.”