UNB names new women's varsity hockey coach after discrimination battle
Kevin Bissett, THE CANADIAN PRESS
Published Monday, June 12, 2017 2:47PM ADT
Last Updated Tuesday, June 13, 2017 8:09AM ADT
FREDERICTON -- The University of New Brunswick has named a head coach for the women's varsity hockey team as the program is reinstated after a lengthy human rights battle.
Sarah Hilworth spent the last two seasons as head coach of the Broncos at Olds College in Alberta, and prior to that she was an assistant coach with the University of Alberta Pandas.
"I'm super excited to be here. This is a fantastic opportunity for our university to move forward and re-establish a tradition of women's hockey excellence on campus," Hilworth said Monday at a news conference in Fredericton.
UNB downgraded its women's varsity team to a sports club in 2008, citing funding issues, but former player Sylvia Dooley alleged the decision amounted to discrimination on the basis of sex.
Last year, the province's Labour and Employment Board agreed and ordered the school to reverse its decision.
The university later announced it would hire a coach, provide resources and equipment and begin recruiting players to create a competitive varsity team for the 2018-19 season.
More than 40 people from across North America applied for the job.
Hilworth said while she has more than a year to assemble a team, the first few recruits will be very important.
"They're going to be really important to set our culture and to show that these kids aren't just great hockey players. I'm very much about bringing kids that are going to be role models and ambassadors for the university," she said.
Last year, Dooley said she was pleased and proud with the decision to reinstate the Varsity Reds women's team. Now she says she's very pleased to see the first of a number of big steps to get a team on the ice.
"I'm happy to see that they're committed to doing it properly. They've had success with other sports at UNB so they seem to be taking that approach with this team as well," Dooley said in an interview from Ottawa.
Hilworth said she wants to produce a team of the same calibre as other schools in the region.
"We want to be with those top dogs within three years. I think we have the resources to do so this," she said.
UNB also agreed to produce a revised gender equity policy no later than this September.
George MacLean, vice-president academic for the Fredericton campus, said it's almost ready.
"We're ahead of schedule actually. The equity policy is complete in draft form and it's under review right now for approval," he said.