For the first time ever in the association’s history, Hockey Brandon is introducing a U15 AAA Female Hockey Program to its lineup for the 2021-2022 season.
Jarrod Franklin, Female Program Director with Hockey Brandon says, “This is the goal we have been working towards for years. At this particular age, player numbers tend to be an issue. This year, not only are player numbers the highest they have ever been, but they also appear sustainable for years to come. That, combined with the depth of our players will take female hockey in Brandon to the next level.”
The team will compete in the Manitoba U15 AAA Female League and is being lead on ice by an all-female coaching team with strong roots in the Westman region. This is another historical first for rep hockey in Brandon.
Karissa Kirkup has been selected as Head Coach of the team. Kirkup, originally from the Virden area, is a product of the Westman Wildcat U18 AAA Female Hockey Program. As a minor, she also played for Team Manitoba in 2011 and 2012. In 2013, she was invited to attend Team Canada’s U22 training camps. Kirkup has five years of playing experience at the university level. Her first year was with the University of Maine, with the remaining four at the University of Manitoba where she helped the team become USport National Champions in 2018.
“I couldn’t be more excited about this opportunity,” says Kirkup. “I just want to help give female players the types of experiences and opportunities that I had. Hockey has brought a lot to my life and I am very committed to developing our athletes and making this program a long-term success.”
Kirkup will be joined by former Westman Wildcat teammate Amanda Coey in the Assistant Coach role. Coey is from Brandon. Following her minor hockey experience, Coey joined the University of Wisconsin-Superior NCAA Division Three women’s hockey program. Coey captained the team in her senior year before returning to Canada and attending the University of Manitoba where she recently completed her Master of Physical Therapy in 2020.
Rounding off the coaching unit is Amy Doerksen. Doerksen has been coaching various levels for the past two decades. She is the current U7 Program Director for Hockey Brandon and a product of the University of Manitoba Women’s Hockey Program (1997 – 1999). Doerksen was integral in securing Kirkup as Head Coach and says, “I joined the Hockey Board with a specific goal to get more women in leadership roles on the ice. Female players need female role models. This team marks the beginning of a new era in female hockey here in Brandon and it is something we should be very excited and proud of.”
To get a head start on the 2021-2022 season, Kirkup has organized the first Annual U15 AAA Female Spring Identification Camp proudly sponsored by West-Fit Physiotherapy & Sports Injury Clinic. The camp takes place May 14th – 16th at the Flynn Arena in the Keystone Centre.
“As a woman business-owner operating in the Brandon area, it is an honour to be connected to this exciting new program supporting and developing female athletes in my community,” says Sharon Shepherd BMR.PT, owner of West-Fit Physiotherapy. “It is wonderful that these young women will receive a much more expansive and competitive opportunity that many of my hockey-playing friends and myself did not have in our era decades ago. I am also proud of Amanda Coey as a colleague of West-Fit Physiotherapy for volunteering in such a terrific project.”
For specific details on the West-Fit AAA U15 Female Spring ID Camp, contact Head Coach Karissa Kirkup.