See her, be her.
Amy Walsh doesn’t know when she first heard the expression, but it holds special meaning for her today as Hockey Nova Scotia’s executive director.
When she looks back at her playing experience in rural New Brunswick, she recalls being the only female on her team for several years. She started at age five, but it wasn’t until her final season of university hockey at Saint Mary’s that she had her first female head coach, Lisa Haley, who went on to work with the Canadian national team.
Amy calls that season with Lisa a gift. “I think that was my first see her, be her moment,” Amy recalls. Seeing Lisa’s leadership in action is what inspired Amy to get into coaching. Before taking on the executive director’s role in November 2018, Amy was the province’s director of sport development, and she’s now showing other females what’s possible. “I really feel as though I now have a responsibility to potentially inspire others who maybe couldn’t see themselves in that position, and now that I’m in this role, they could,” Amy says.
Amy, along with her two sisters and two brothers were raised to believe there were no barriers; their parents told them they could do anything. Now, years later, Amy is making a difference with an emphasis on access and inclusion in the sport. “If we want more females to participate in hockey, if we want more underrepresented groups to participate in hockey, we really need to change the environment. We really need to make the environment more welcoming, more inclusive and safer for all.”
“I think if more young girls just have that willingness to try and just step out on the ice or just step into a classroom or into an environment that’s new to them, I know they will succeed,” she says.
Funding from Nova Scotia Gaming’s Support4Sport initiative has provided opportunities for teams, programs and players. A current project made possible through Support4Sport maps each player’s experience from registration through to the end of the season. The information will help Hockey Nova Scotia improve the experience and make the sport more accessible.
“Funding in amateur sport is really important. It’s something that can make a difference. I think if we can give better access to even one individual to play sport, I think it’s worth it,” Amy says. “Ideally, we would love to not only support individuals, but we want to support coaches and the organizations that really are the delivery agents for sport.”
And maybe one day, a player supported through Support4Sport funding will recall their very own see her be her moment inspired by Amy.