By Doug Kennedy
It is hard to believe that a community like Kincardine could have two young women with coaching ties to our Team Canada women’s program. Sarah (Howald) Hodges was a part of the Hockey Canada coaching pool from 2000-2011. The coaches had different roles with different teams and worked a lot of the camps during that time, including U18, U22 and SR.
The roles that Hodges took on were video coach, assistant coach and head coach of the U22 National Team, and then head coach of the U18 National team for the 2010-11 season. Margo Page from Kincardine also coached in the Hockey Canada women’s group.
Hodges registered for hockey in Kincardine at the age of six and was turned down. The next year, she was allowed to play house league, so she, along with Jenny Burgess and Sharla Twolan, were the first three girls to play in Kincardine minor hockey.
Hodges was second year novice and her coaches were Brian Ferris, Earl Kay and Brian Mercer. She really loved playing from the start and enjoyed her time in KMHA. She said she had lots of good coaches and met some good friends. She played there until the end of bantam. Then she went west to Notre Dame College in Wilcox, Saskatchewan and played midget girls hockey there for grades 11 and 12.
Hodges is currently the head coach of the university of Regina women’s hockey team. This is her twenty-second season coaching this team. She has brought her team to Kincardine a couple of times, providing our town with some great hockey.
York University coach Dan Church’s team was always part of that group of teams that played in Kincardine. Church also coached with Hodges with the Team Canada U22 team.
“Sarah is a detail oriented coach and has great eyes for the game,” said Church. “She is really great at making in-game adjustments and providing a vision and direction in which athletes can improve.”
He also sees her athletes grow and develop year after year.
Church has spent a bit of time in Kincardine, attending the Hodge’s wedding and remembers walking down Queen Street with the Kincardine Scottish Pipe Band on Saturday nights.
The Regina team had two months of full practices starting in October, but their team had to shut down the end of November. Morgan Baker from Kincardine was in her last year of university.
“Morgan has played great over her time in Regina and she looked to be at her best this fall, which makes the situation even more disappointing,” said Hodges. “She has been a great contributor to our program and has been a pleasure to get to know and to coach.”
Hodges said her team has been exceptional in dealing with all this. They accepted all the rules put in place by the university, including wearing masks during practices. The younger players have had the luxury of working hard in preparing for the future. Fifth year players can play another season but they have already graduated. The team is doing their courses online.
Hodges said they have a hockey schedule done for this fall for the Canada west division. She is hoping they can play some of this schedule.
Her husband Chris works for the Ministry of the Environment in communications. They have two children, Annie,11, and Madison, six.
Some of the things she enjoys about Regina is the weather and it is a big enough town that there is lots to do, but small enough that you see people you know all the time. It definitely has a small town feel and there are great people here-so not really different than Bruce County.
Hodges has been a strong role model for a lot of young women across Canada and she continues to lead with her university team in Regina. I hope she can bring her team back to Kincardine someday soon.