Brittenie Jefferd-Moore, known better in town by the nickname Bitsie, was one of only two girls in her age group playing hockey growing up.
“I remember having to get dressed in the women’s washroom in Tuk one year,” recalls Jefferd-Moore, who often had to prepare herself for games in closets or storage rooms.
She joined the Inuvik Minor Hockey Association (IMHA) in high school after tiring of figure skating.
“It gave me a sense of accomplishment,” she said about the sport. “Back then it was a socialization thing with friends. It was a great outlet to go out in the community, have fun and do something you actually enjoy.”
After leaving for school and returning home to Inuvik in 2015, Jefferd-Moore is now coaching the initiation level, five- and six-year-olds, in the IMHA.
“This year we have a really large group and she’s still willing to get in there and help out,” said Marsha Branigan, secretary with the organization.
She doesn’t do it because she likes getting up early on weekend mornings.
“I love it because I enjoy teaching kids a skill and seeing the smiles on their faces,” said Jefferd-Moore.
“I always love playing with kids. I grew up babysitting a bunch of the kids that I used to coach or coach now. In October they’re like little Bambis on ice who can’t really skate and then by the end of the season they’re skating, they’re happier, they’re enjoying it and then they come back next year and they’re excited.”
There are a lot more girls involved now, she added, even in the surrounding communities.
“Getting five-year-olds to listen to you sometimes is the biggest obstacle,” said Jefferd-Moore. “As long as they leave the ice laughing and having fun in some shape or form, then I’m happy. Sometimes my plan goes out the window because I need to focus on just making sure they’re skating and having fun.”
Branigan is happy to get her help.
“It’s really nice to see the kids that have gone through the system actually coming back and giving back to the association,” said Branigan. “This association is totally run by volunteers. It’s generally parents of kids who are involved, but Bitsie doesn’t have any kids and she’s putting some time and effort into the system for the young kids, so that’s really nice to see.”