Our History (Durham West Girls Hockey)

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Birth of a Great Organization!

On Wednesday February 24, 1993 in meeting room #2 at the Pickering Complex the birth of the Durham West Girls' Hockey Association took place. Over sixty interested parents were in attendance from Ajax and Pickering for a special meeting called by Bev. Mallory who was then the Vice-President of the OWHA in charge of hockey development. The topic of discussion was the feasibility of forming a Girls' Hockey Association in Durham West. There were numerous girls and women playing all over Metro Toronto with various other girls' leagues and with boys' teams. Perhaps it was time to create our own league and help develop our own female hockey players. We were fortunate in Pickering that a new ice surface was under construction and would be ready for operation in September of 1993 (O'Brien Arena). We initially needed to sign-up or show intent to play organized hockey to our respective Parks & Recreation Departments. We needed to a show a demand for some ice time for girls and women of all ages in Durham West (Ajax/Pickering) that wanted to play hockey. A steering committee composed of 11 volunteers chose to meet within two weeks to develop a publicity campaign to encourage females of all ages and all abilities from beginner to advanced skaters to sign-up at various locations and times.

Planning a strategy.....The magnificent 11 volunteers met on Wednesday March 10 and devised a plan to sign-up players to join our new association. Art Carefoote was voted in as President and master organizer. He helped set-up the incorporated name and designed our corporate logo. We then pooled $50-$100.00 each into a start-up budget for advertising and to buy DWGHA hats and sweatshirts to wear at the sign-up locations. One day of publicity at the Pickering Town Centre in front of Shopper's Drug Mart yielded over one hundred names and advertising in the local paper increased our initial registration to almost 140 names. Art then put together a forty page presentation with everyone's input to present to both the Towns of Ajax and Pickering. He was successful in acquiring 13 hours of prime time ice from both towns to start a house league program and two rep/select teams at Atom and Novice levels. We were also successful in acquiring a $13,000.00 Wintario grant to purchase hockey equipment. This was a very important event as we were in competition with surrounding organizations to keep our costs in-line with established associations that were years ahead of us. We ended up just in the red over the first two years but were well on our way. We had begun one of the fastest and most successful women's hockey associations in the History of the OWHA (Ontario Women's Hockey Association). The OWHA asked us for a copy of our Town presentation to advise other new organizations on how to form a plan and present it. We hosted half of the Provincial Championships in April of 1995 and were the first organization to do this in over a decade.

How we did it....The magnificent eleven rotated meetings between our kitchens and dining rooms every other week during the entire year one. There were some late mid-week meetings but we wanted everyone's input and understanding of the decisions that were being made. We were all super volunteers with one goal in mind- 'our daughters were going to play ice hockey in their own town arenas'! Looking back five years later, we did one hell of job and had a lot of fun doing it. We have established some life time friendships that are a direct product of that first year. It is hard to estimate the total volunteer hours put in during that first year, but it easily in the 1000's for sure. The following is that executive:

Inaugural Executive 93/94
President Art Carefoote
Vice President of Houseleague Andrew Vahey
Vice President of Selects Rob Black
Secretary Dale Genuis
Treasurer Sylvie Morra
Registrar Andrew Vahey
Referee-in-chief John Morra
Dir. Coach & Player Dev. Penny Giraudry
Dir. Equipment & Uniforms Denise Warne
Dir. of Publicity Art Carefoote
Dir. of Sponsorships Janice Black
Dir. of Statistics Andrew Vahey
Dir. of Tournaments Mike Serio
Dir. of Ways & Means Barb Ritchie

We all salute the executive members that have served and that have made DWGHA a first class organization all across Ontario. Your dedication and committment to DWGHA is very much appreciated by everyone.


In June 2007, DWGHA received a grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation in the amount of $41,500. DWGHA is grateful to the Ontario Trillium Foundation for their support. The budget includes funds specifially earmarked for the purchase of association goalie equipment, select jerseys and socks, coaching staff training and development, team practice equipment.