North Bay & District Girls Hockey Association - In the Beginning
By: Scott Kile
The North Bay & District Girls Hockey Association got its start under the old North Bay Minor Hockey Association umbrella. This is where the Black & Gold colours and early association logo originate from. The 1st all girls hockey team started its inaugural season in the six team NBMHA Novice HL Division. An ad was placed in the North Bay Nugget with the caption “She Shoots She Scores” looking for girls to join our girl’s novice hockey team. With 15 energetic hockey players and “Big Sisters” as the team sponsor the hockey team hit the ice in 1996/97. The chant” Go Sisters Go” from enthusiastic parents and fans could be heard coming from the stands every game. The season was a huge success.
In the 2nd year of operation, the girl’s hockey program under NBMHA started to grow quickly. The girl’s hockey program grew to one atom HL team and one Peewee HL team in North Bay. The Sturgeon Falls Minor Hockey Association also put together an all-girls Peewee HL team for the 1997/98 hockey season.
Here we grow again. In 1998 the landscape of minor hockey changed in North Bay. The North Bay Minor Hockey Association and the West Ferris Minor Hockey Association entered into an operational agreement. WFMHA would operate minor hockey in North Bay and the North Bay Minor Hockey would go on to operate the Timbit Hockey for Beginners Program. The agreement was to not duplicate each others’ programs.
Ice was difficult to get. We were told we would get no special treatment when we lobbied the City for ice. We took ice time Saturday nights at Memorial Gardens for our games. It was the only ice available that year. The cost for the ice rental at MG was 25% higher than the other City arenas. Our practice ice was 7am weekday mornings. No one complained, we just worked hard to succeed.
In the NB&DGHA inaugural season (1998/99) we were able to ice teams from Novice to Bantam. The NBMHA provided sweaters and goalie equipment for each team. The 1st logo was the NBMHA logo. As replacement sweaters were ordered the logo stayed the same with the lettering changed to NB&DGHA. Soon after the pre-novice program was started. McDonald’s was the sponsor, and the program was known as the McDonald Small Fries.
Thanks to a good number of determined young girls and many hard-working volunteers with a vision for the future the NB&DGHA become the fastest growing sport in North Bay.