Every since she was four, Bree Anne Healey wanted to play hockey.
At age six, with unbridled enthusiasm and after having taken a year of CanSkate, she convinced her parents to enroll her in the Comox Valley Minor Hockey League. The year was 1991 and there was only one other girl playing in the league at the time. Before long, she was passing, checking and scrambling for the puck with the boys and picking up skills that can only be learned through tough competition. Over the years, Bree continued in minor hockey on defence, wing and, from time to time, in goal, from beginner to bantam, including one year of peewee rep.
In the early-’90s, in an effort to promote female participation in a traditionally male-dominated sport, Dairyland sponsored and funded the first female hockey tournament in the Valley. At that time, there was no female division in the Comox Valley and very few girls had ventured into the sport. Paul Healey, Bree’s father who was the ice co-ordinator with Minor Hockey at the time, volunteered to run the tournament, calling on friends and other hockey families to find girls who could be encouraged to try Canada’s favourite sport. No previous experience was required and thanks to coaching of volunteer parents, the girls had a blast, wearing their brothers’ or friends’ gear and building a camaraderie that would last for years.
The Dairyland female tournaments became an annual event, sparking an interest among girls and resulting in the formation of the Valley’s first female division, run through minor hockey and initiated, created and co-coached by Paul.
As well as mixed play, Bree participated in the female division and played a year on the North Island female rep team. After graduating from high school and a short hiatus of travel and work, Bree resumed her beloved sport of hockey. The 25-year-old now resides in Duncan where she plays on two men’s recreation teams and in a women’s league out of Fuller Lake. This summer, she has helped mentor at a Christian hockey camp in Duncan.
From Aug. 26 to Sept. 5 at Burnaby 8 Rinks she will play in the Longest Hockey Game in the World, a Canadian Cystic Fibrosis Foundation event. Bree’s goal is to raise $10,000.
“I’m fortunate enough to participate in this amazing event,” Bree states on her Facebook page. “I’m looking for donations and support. All the money raised will go towards finding a cure for CF. Please reach out to me if you have any questions.”
Donations have been coming in, both in the form of money and items such as hockey gear. For more information, visit www.longestgame4cf.com.