My name is Mikayla Bowman and I am a 13-year-old girl goalie that plays hockey in the sunshine state—yes you read that right, Florida! You may be wondering why in the world I would spend my time blocking flying pucks and not working on my tan at the beach. Well, I guess I am just one of the crazy ones.
My story begins when I was 6 years old in Phoenix, Arizona. I’m pretty sure my parents tried to find my brother and I an extracurricular activity that kept us out of the 120-degree heat and the ice rink was the perfect escape. I started figure skating and my brother started hockey tots. A point came when I decided I wanted to switch to hockey. Within a few weeks of playing on my first house team, I was asked to fill in for our goalie who was out of town and I haven’t left the net since. We were a very close hockey family at our local rink and we had a ton of fun. I made great friends that I stay connected with even today.
Make no mistake, my journey hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. Being a girl, in what most people would call a boy’s sport is challenging, especially in the areas in which I lived. This became more obvious to me when I started travel hockey. On my first travel hockey team, I was the third goalie on the Mission A Boys Team. I worked hard every practice to show that I was just as capable as the boy goalies but I saw very few games. This pushed me and I worked hard to prepare for the next years tryouts, determined to play at a higher level proving that I was just as good.
Skip forward to the following season, in 2015 I played on the Jr. Coyotes AA Boys Team. I was like a cub walking into the Lion’s den. I had a tougher time fitting in with the boys. Many of the boys made it very clear that because I was a girl, they felt that I was less of a player and automatically dubbed me the ‘backup’ goalie. There were a few mean boys that worked hard to try and make me quit, the worst was the other goalie. He went so far as to hit me in the face! When I told the coach, his response was “boys will be boys”. I knew right then, I was not going to stay on this team another year. I was better than him and I was determined to prove it.
I worked incredibly hard with an amazing goalie coach and it payed off. In 2016, I made the Bobcats AAA Boys Team. I was so excited, I proved to myself that I was good enough. Right before the season started, I got news that the military was moving my family to St Augustine, Florida. I was devastated!
Within days of moving here I was back on the ice. Unfortunately, teams were already picked and there was not a spot for me on any of the travel teams. So that season I was back to playing house hockey. I took everything my goalie coach taught me and made sure to work on all my fundamental skills at every ice time my parents could find for me. With the support of the Jacksonville JETS I did extra ice practices during the week and traveled hours on the weekends for private goalie coaching, whatever it took so I could continue to improve.
Later that year, we discovered the Florida girls team called the Lady Vipers. Joining this team was one of the best experiences I’ve had. I didn’t know it at the time but it was exactly what I needed. I made great friends and it exposed me to the girl’s hockey circuit. The Lady Vipers sparked something in me to support other girls. While playing for the Lady Vipers, I was invited to the Girls Rush Rising Stars Showcase for the first time. I was so excited to see other highly competitive girls play. I had a blast and it really expanded my understanding of how good girl’s hockey can be. This year, I will be at the Rush Rising Stars Pre-College Showcase and the Beantown Women’s Classic. In the fall, I have committed to goaltending for the new Girls Florida Alliance team.
Please follow me in my journey through this game of girl’s ice hockey. By sharing my life lessons, heartaches and victories both on and off the ice, I am hoping to inspire other girls to move forward when they face similar challenges. I feel privileged to have this chance to speak up in the hockey community and be the voice for other girls.
- Mikayla Bowman
@mjbowman05 on Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, & Twitter