Hockey moms are used to spending time on the road but Jackie Hodgins takes that dedication to the next level.
Hodgins’ family lives in Fernie and her two daughters Cori-Anne, 17 and Kimberley, 15 play on the only Female Midget AAA team in the Kootenays based in Nelson — the Kootenay Wildcats.
The girls have nominated their mom for the Kraft Hockey Goes On competition that celebrates contributions to hockey. And Hodgins has beat out over 1,000 people to be selected for the top 100 nominees.
“My mom does more to support me and my sister in our dedication to the game than any other parent that I know,” says Kimberley. “I challenge you to find another parent who will drive more than 17,000 kms back and forth over one of the highest highway mountain passes in Canada to a rink in another time zone up to three times a week to get their kids to hockey.”
By the end of the season, the girls, who both play centre, will have travelled back and forth from Fernie to Nelson 54 times. On top of coordinating her daughter’s travel with meals and homework, Hodgins also fundraises, does score keeping, penalty box work and helps on the bus during road games.
“Without parents like my mom our smaller regional team would not exist,” says Kimberley.
Beginning at 9 a.m. (ET), from March 23-24, Canadians will be able to vote for their nominee. The top five nominees will be celebrated for their contributions to hockey and an award of $100,000 will be given to Nelson Minor hockey association. An additional 20 nominees, four per region, will also be celebrated with awards of $20,000 given to minor hockey.
Kimberley and Cori-Anne play with teammates from all over the Kootenay region including Castlegar, Trail and Nelson. But some travel similar distances coming from Cranbrook, Golden, Nakusp and Canal Flats.
Their dad, Jim Huisman says the girls love hockey, the excitement of the game, the friendships and the exercise.
“Jackie and I support our girls in hockey because they love the game and work really hard,” he says. “If they are enjoying it and putting in 100 per cent every night, then it is easy for us to drive them and do our part.”
Kimberley and Cori-Anne have played hockey since they were three-years-old. Their mom says seeing the girls’ dedication to the game while maintaining a well-rounded life, including maintaining grades at school, is what keeps her on board.
“They have put their heart and soul into playing hockey,” says Hodgins. “They’re healthy and happy and as a parent, that’s what you want for a child.”
The pace set does tire the mom, obviously. The girls are picked up from their school in Fernie at 2:45 p.m. with a warm supper packed. After the Nelson practice, the family arrives back home around 1 a.m. local time.
“I grind through the hard part, and when I see them on the ice and they’re giving full-out and getting results, it’s worth it.”
Hodgins is surprised that her nomination has gotten this far. She is generally a quiet behind-the-scenes volunteer so this limelight is not her forte. Still she feels pleased to have her daughter’s apparent appreciation for her efforts.
“They feel incredibly lucky that they have someone who will do this for them,” she says.
Cori-Anne is in her last year of minor hockey while Kimberley has two more years on the team. Should Hodgins win, the funds handed out by Kraft will pay for things like hockey equipment, ice time, tournaments and facility upgrades for the Nelson Minor hockey association.
“Anything that improves minor hockey can improve my kids’ experience,” says Hodgins.
Huisman encourages everyone to vote for his wife, a dedicated hockey mom, at www.KraftHockeyGoesOn.ca
“We are not really looking for recognition, we do however want Nelson Minor hockey to win the $100,000 and to support the entire community in the game of hockey,” says Huisman.
The winning nominees and their communities will be announced on April 3.