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N.S. minor hockey community voices support for dressing room policy change | CBC News

Members of the minor hockey community in Nova Scotia are voicing their opinions on the recent dressing room policy change by Hockey Canada that encourages players to show up to the arena wearing a base layer and wearing “minimum attire” in open-concept shower areas.

The policy has been in effect since Sept. 12 and players are still adjusting to the new policy.

Hanna Marshall, a 20-year-old hockey player who plays for a team on the Eastern Shore, said while she understands the intent of the policy is to be more inclusive, she thinks some of it is a little silly — particularly a rule about wearing swim gear in the shower.

“For 15 years, I’ve never had anyone uncomfortable with it,” she said. “I don’t know if it’s necessarily sanitary to wear a bathing suit in the shower.”

But others in the community see a benefit. Jack Taylor, a 12-year-old player, said while his age group doesn’t use the rink’s shower, he does see a benefit to the swimsuit rule.

“I think it’s good. Some people may not be confident taking off their clothes and some other people might not be comfortable, so I think it’s a good rule,” Taylor said.

A shower inside a dressing room.
Hockey Canada says when athletes are showering in open concept showers, they’re encouraged to keep on ‘certain “minimum attire” at all times, including swimwear.’ (Eric Woolliscrof/CBC)

Shawn MacDonald’s sons play hockey and he said he thinks the Hockey Canada changes will make it more comfortable for everyone in the dressing room.

“We went through this with COVID, where we had to go through lots of change, lots of adaptations that we had to make and we just rolled with it,” MacDonald said.

Inclusiveness encouraged

Bill Short, the technical director of the Dartmouth Whalers Minor Hockey Association, said he supports the policy change because it’s more inclusive.

“We have different gender identities, we have people with body issues, we have kids just sometimes lacking self-confidence and this will help them,” he said.

Short said this new policy means co-ed teams will now be able to get ready together in the same dressing room.

WATCH | New locker room rules intended to help everyone: 

Minor hockey players must wear undergarments in dressing room, shower

Featured VideoNew Hockey Canada rules are in effect that require all minor hockey players to wear under garments in the dressing room, even in the shower. Officials say the new policy is meant to foster inclusion for LGBTQ players, women and religious groups.

“When we have co-ed hockey — which we have in the Dartmouth Whalers — we have girls who may want to go into the same dressing room with boys and, up until this time, they’ve had to be in their own rooms so they’re not really part of the team per se,” he said. 

“So now they’re able to go into that room with that layer on and get dressed with the boys.”

Beth Vallis, head coach for the Dartmouth High girls varsity U18 hockey team, said the dressing room rules are about providing a safe environment for the athletes.

“With girls in particular, girls and women leave sport at a very young age. We have a very high drop-out rate, so whatever we can do to retain players to make it inclusive — it’s a good thing,” Vallis said.

two private stalls in a dressing room.
If someone doesn’t want to wear a base layer to the arena, they are encouraged to get changed in a private stall. (Eric Woolliscrof/CBC)

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