Tell us about yourself!
I feel on some level that everyone knows my hockey story as I wrote about it a while back from Women’s Hockey Life, but that’s probably not accurate. My name is Lisa Corman. I am 50. I was born and raised in Oak Park, Illinois (USA). Oak Park is an idyllic suburb of Chicago.
Like nearly everyone I grew up with, I learned to skate somewhere around age four or five at my home rink—Ridgeland Commons. It was a seasonal rink generally open from Thanksgiving – March. Once it was too warm to maintain the ice, the season ended. I found an instant connection to the ice and loved the feeling of skating. I knew about hockey because Stan Mikita was a Blackhawk and that was our team. Hockey looked like it was really fun, even with all the fights (back then, it was way more prevalent). So after my first year of skating, when the chance to skate for a second season came ’round, I wanted to play hockey.
My mom nixed my request by telling me that girls didn’t play hockey. I really had no response to that, and certainly couldn’t cite evidence to argue to the contrary… so I spent another year learning the basics of skating on figure skates (toe pick!). The next year, when I was given the chance to skate again, I asked to play hockey. My mom again told me that girls didn’t play hockey. I had learned of a girl, Diedre LeFevour who played hockey and I told my mom that Deirdre LeFevour played hockey and she was a girl… that did not work on my mom and I still was not allowed to play hockey. I took skating lessons for one more year before deciding that figure skating wasn’t really for me. In hindsight, figure skaters really know how to use their edges and I would have benefitted from continuing… but it was the late 1970s and I was like eight—I did not have the best judgment.
I periodically went back to the ice for Friday night skate, one more go at lessons (still not allowed to play hockey) and then free ice time when I lived in Denver for Graduate School; I really did not skate regularly for four decades. I attended college in San Diego and around the 1988 Calgary Olympics, read an article about women who were playing hockey and starting club teams at colleges in the Northeast.
The focus was on one player in particular, Cammi Granato. She had grown up not far from me. Her brothers all played hockey and she joined them… she had made her way onto a high school team and got to college without a place to play. I remember thinking: GIRLS DO PLAY HOCKEY! I was living in San Diego for college, so trying it out myself wasn’t an option, but I felt vindicated for simply wanting to play.
I always followed hockey and loved going to games but never thought I would play hockey myself. When I was 48, I had an epiphany… I was an adult. I made my own money and had my own law firm. I could try hockey if I wanted to, and so I searched out playing hockey. I found the Northern California Women’s Hockey League and they had a “Give Hockey A Try Day.” I got myself onto the interested list, and when the email came that I could sign up, I did. Immediately.
I went to the Give Hockey A Try Day nervous and excited, and having watched a bunch of videos on YouTube to learn about hockey skates and hockey gear. I had no clue how to get dressed and had never been on hockey skates. When I got on the ice and “skated/played,” it was amazing. I loved it so much more than I could have even imagined loving it. Give Hockey A Try Day was in March 2017, so just over two years ago. I am now 50 and skate/play whenever I can. When I can’t skate, I watch skating videos to learn about how to play hockey better.
What made you want to be a WHL Brand Ambassador?
I thought about signing up when I first saw the posts about the program but wondered what I had to offer. I decided to apply and be an ambassador after reading responses to 200 professional (female) hockey players announcing their plan to not play in any league in North America #ForTheGame. The vitriol from men AND women was really disconcerting. I get that there are men who are going to be sexist morons—mostly people who have never really played sport, and particularly hockey, and by seeing women outperform them (and other men) their manhood is threatened. I am not sure how it is a threat, but it clearly is….(not).
More troubling to me was the number of women who echoed the sentiment that women and girls don’t play hockey, their hockey is boring, and that while these women commenting were self-described “hockey fans”, their words belied that. They are NHL fans, and I realized that perhaps these were the women I could reach—after all, someday their granddaughters could want to play hockey. Are they going to echo that same mumbojumbo to their granddaughters?
What are you most looking forward to as a #WHLAMBASSADOR?
Free CCM gear! Kidding… I like STX sticks and gloves better. In all seriousness, I LOVE going to the rink to skate and seeing so many girls and young women skating. It’s really exciting to see and I have, on some level, inspired some of these girls as well. That is overwhelming on some level, but also a great responsibility. I just hope that by being a new hockey player at 50 I can inspire women who have always wanted to try the sport to do so. I also hope that as an ambassador I get to meet other women in the sport, who can inspire me.
What’s something not a lot of people know about you?
I am really pretty boring. My daughter would tell you that I make people laugh—all the time. I don’t know about that. Oh, I speak fluent German since I lived in Germany for three years.
If you could sit down and have dinner with one female hockey player, who would it be and why?
I would say Deirdre LeFevour—she’s not famous but she was the first girl I ever knew of who played hockey however, I learned recently that she passed away two years ago at age 48. Thus, I would pick Cammi Granato because she really is the reason I became fully aware of the fact that women can and do play (and kick butt at) hockey. She is one of the few women in the HHOF and is the reason women today like Hilary Knight, Marie Philip-Poulin and Noora Raty are kicking butt.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given in hockey or in life?
I’d probably say it’s something like “We’ve all been there”. This is something I have been told on the ice when skating “up” (with far more skilled/advanced skaters/players). I am still working on developing confidence when I skate and play, so when I play with people better than me I can be really unsure of myself. Having people who may have played college hockey remind me that they all started somewhere, we have all missed the shot, flubbed a pass, turned it over—it has helped me to remember that hockey is a process and that everyone, even the best players, make mistakes.
What’s your dream for women’s hockey?
My personal dream is to skate with, maybe even play with, Brianna Decker. For women’s hockey generally, I would love to see a successful league where these amazing athletes have the opportunity to earn a fair wage and play/train to the best of their ability. This will allow future generations of women’s hockey players to thrive.
Interested in becoming a #WHLAmbassador?