By Doug Kennedy
Local resident Jill (Van Dam) Fraser was the only girl playing hockey with the boys in tyke, novice and atom divisions in Tiverton. That was the only option a six-year-old girl, who loved the game of hockey, had. It was a lonely time for Jill getting dressed in an empty dressing room, ref’s room or a closet in the arena. She would get to join the team for the pre-game talk when the Zamboni went on the ice.
Back in the 80s, ringette was really strong in Tiverton and Ripley. Fraser played hockey, along with ringette, to get more of a team atmosphere. Although she enjoyed ringette, it was hockey that she loved to play. She wanted to play with girls, not boys, but that was not possible.
Dan Campbell put together a girls’ team from the area in Fraser’s second year of atom. He formed an atom-peewee girls’ team and entered them in to the WOAA senior women’s division, as there was not any other teams to play in the area.
In peewee, the girls were able to play in a full girl’s division, with most of the teams from the London and Sarnia area. That season, they won the provincial championship, which helped seal the fact that girl’s hockey teams belonged in this area.
The following season, her dad, Harry, helped Campbell form the Saugeen Maitland Lightning girl’s hockey program, which is a successful association that has grown and is doing a great job developing girl’s hockey from this area.
In the 90s when Bruce A shut down, a lot of families transferred to the Pickering- Darlington area. That meant Harry and Jane and their two daughters Jill and Heather had to move to Port Perry.
At that point, she was playing bantam on the Scarborough Sharks AA team. After that, she played for the Toronto Sting Intermediate. While playing for Toronto, she got to play an exhibition game against the USA women’s national team. When she was 17, she made the U18 Team Ontario and they travelled to Trois-Rivieres, Quebec for the tournament against other provinces.
After high school, Fraser went to the University of Connecticut, where she played division one women’s hockey for a couple of years. After that, she went back to Toronto to finish school.
In Port Perry, she coached the bantam and midget girl’s teams.
After she got married, she moved back to Kincardine with her husband Ryan. They have two kids, Briley and Myles.
Currently, Fraser is the vice president of Kincardine’s girl’s hockey program. Her main goal is to grow the program. Our girls program is in good shape with Fraser helping to lead the way.
When she moved back to Kincardine, she played hockey with a women’s team from Ripley. For the last few years, she has played on a tournament team that Brenda Yourth, from Port Elgin, put together. That team also won another provincial championship.