Brayah Bemrose and Zoe Dyke are only 10 years old, but they are already
making a name for themselves in the hockey world. The pair are goalie
partners – and the only girls on the Ottawa Valley U11 AA Silver Seven.
“It truly does make the conversation rounds, especially when they see two
girls in net competing in AAA tournaments in the Toronto area,” says
Natasha Danschinko, Zoe’s mother, the team’s goalie coach and a great role
model for the girls.
Danschinko is no stranger to elite-level competition herself, having
competed in two Ontario Winter Games as a ringette goaltender. She credits
her years playing ringette for so much of her hockey success. Danschinko
attended Brock University for her undergrad, where she was a member of the
women’s basketball team. She went on to play university hockey for two
seasons, backstopping the Ottawa Gee Gees from 1999-2001, while completing
her master’s degree and teacher’s college. After graduating from the
University of Ottawa, Danschinko spent one season playing with the Ottawa
Raiders of the former National Women’s Hockey League. She still finds the
time to strap on the pads today, playing men’s pick-up hockey with various
groups in the capital region.
“My daughter will no doubt make the switch [to women’s hockey] one day, but
right now she truly loves playing with and against the boys,” Danischinko
says. “How cool is it that the two goalies at the AA level in the area this
year are girls? Zoe and Brayah are also best friends, so it makes the
relationship even more special. They push each other to be their best, but
100% support the success that each have. When they found out they made the
team, they were over the moon that they were going to play together and be
a girl goalie tandem.”
Hockey Eastern Ontario asked Brayah and Zoe about their experience in
hockey so far and what advice they would give other girls in the game.
Q: How did you get into hockey?
I first got into hockey when I was around three years old. I did
learn-to-skate sessions every Monday. My parents then registered me for the
Little Sens program. The following year I started hockey with the West
Carleton Warriors. I always loved going to the arena to play hockey, and
that has not changed at all.
My family was playing hockey – and I wanted to play like my mom and
brother. I started when I was six years old. I wanted to be a goalie
because my mom plays goalie and she made it look like lots of fun, and I
said I would never be angry if I let in goals.
Q: What has it been like getting to play with another girl as your
It's been an amazing experience so far, not just because she is my best
friend – she is really supportive and we understand the same things. We
give each other pep talks between periods in a game. When we have to change
in a separate change room, it's nice to have my teammate with me.
It feels like it’s great because there is another female playing with me
against the boys – it’s probably the best feeling ever as a goalie.
Q: What lessons have you learned from hockey?
I think the biggest lesson I've learned from hockey is to never give up,
even when things get really tough, and to go that extra mile to get better.
I think if everyone remembers to go out on the ice with confidence and know
that you will try your hardest even if you don't get the outcome you
wanted, you still know that you tried your hardest and you can't change
Don’t give up, don’t let other people tell you that you can’t play hockey
as a girl [and] don’t put your head down if you lose or things don’t go
Q: What advice would you give to another girl looking to get involved
Just do it! It can be scary or hard at first, but the more you practice,
the better it gets. The main reason to play is to have fun; the minute you
are not having fun, you need to figure out the reason and then try to fix
that. It doesn't matter what league or level you play, just have fun.
Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t play hockey as a girl, and don’t
give up if you don’t make a team you are trying out for – there is always a
team that will want you.
What are your goals in hockey?
I want to keep playing competitive with the boys. I want to make our AAA
team, then get drafted and play junior or in the OHL. I also really want to
play in university on a Division 1 team in the U.S. I also want to play for
the country in the world championship and also go to the Olympics. I want
to be a starting goalie in the NHL for a full season.
I want to make it to the highest level every year. When I am older, I want
to play university hockey in Canada or in the U.S., and I want to play on
Canada’s National Women’s Team.
Q: How do you think we can make hockey more inclusive?
I have been really lucky to have amazing coaches. My teammates are amazing
and always include Zoe and I in things, which I think has a lot to do with
the coaches teaching them that it doesn't matter who you are, it matters
how you play the game. Encourage kids to join a learn-to-skate [program] at
a young age. Have hockey ambassadors of all ages, races and sexes so that
if people have questions, they can reach out to that ambassador. I think a
way to make hockey more inclusive is to have more grants and sponsors to
help families pay for their kids to play.
1) Teach people that hockey is for anyone, and anyone can play – it doesn’t
matter if they are a boy or a girl or from a different country. 2) If you
see someone that wants to play hockey, you can encourage them to play and
show them videos of everyone playing. 3) Create a place where everyone can
feel safe to play sports.