“My name is Diana, I’m 23 and live and study in Bonn, Germany. I play defense for two roller hockey teams.
Growing up as a 90’s kid in a soccer-dominated Germany, my first, and unfortunately long forgotten, contact with hockey had been the Mighty Ducks. Some ten years later, I started to be interested in Canadian music and culture, and my hockey journey began after I saw a World Cup game in 2009. I began to go to public skating every Saturday morning and watched a game of a local club. I started to grow into that club off the ice as I was asked to write a rink newspaper.
I went to every game, was among the last to leave the arena and the players looked forward to being interviewed by me and a partner.
Then, in 2010, I went to my first ever hockey practice. At that point, I already had a two-year bullying history and a three-year long and painful journey with a too high kneecap (several injuries of said knee and diagnosed with knock-knees).
I have to say that I never really fit in: I was the one playing soccer with the boys in the schoolyard while the girls played with jumping ropes and I was the one who was never interested in dancing and ballet. Burying myself in books and being active for the life guards, doing athletics and martial arts, and not listening to rap or hip hop (those were a thing from 2007 to 2013), I was considered strange. Apart from that, weighing 90 kilograms and doing sports was a combination no one ever wanted to believe. I lived for sports, history, books, music and science fiction series. I was judged by the way I looked and because of my interests.
Hockey changed EVERYTHING for me. I was nervous when entering the gym, but the first guy did not judge me. He even showed me the way to the right locker room. I think he was kind of HAPPY to see that there was someone interested in hockey. The same goes for my coach and our goalie. They were not interested in how I looked, they were interested in me as a person and in showing me how to skate properly and handle the stick. Over the years, the skating helped me to build muscles that work against my knock-knees.
During the next practices, the guys joined in and helped out with coaching even if they had an important game the next day. One of them was such a big fan that he told everyone how much we developed and never gave up and tried and tried. After seven years, he still does that when he sees us.
Being a team of many beginners, we were quite good and even won a game in our first season. After just two years in the second league, many players left. This is normal for a rural student-dominated town, but no new players joined. The leagues where changed and as the southernmost team, we decided not to play that season. Little did we know that it would be a decision that has not changed by now. We tried as a mixed team, but it did not work out. Some joined another team, some quit hockey, and just a few are still coming to practices with no games to prepare for.
With tendon problems in my left wrist, I was not really able to play from 2013 on. There were ups and downs, sure, but it was like hell for me. At some points even there wasn’t the acceptance I needed among the players that were left.
What changed my life again was a tournament where I met my second team. Even though I am not good at scoring, they cheered for my teammates and me as if it was the last game in the final round of the NHL playoffs.
The guys formed a non-competitive men’s team where I study and I decided to give it a try. It was the best decision I ever made in hockey. As one of the first two women, they welcomed me with open arms. They supported me in everything and being not as good as them was no problem. Two years later, I consider them family. No matter how bad everything is, practicing with the guys is always something to look forward to. They cared for me when I needed surgery and made me comfortable. They guaranteed me that nothing changed and that I still had the same place on the team when I returned. They even cared for me when my father suddenly died.
With a semester abroad waiting for me next year, one of the first things I did was contact a team where I’m going. I now have a group of people who are happy that I want to join them and are waiting for me.
I always said that women’s hockey is most important for me, but by now, what is most important for me is that I play for a team that isn’t just a team on the paper, but is a team with everything from games and tournaments, to renting the ice rink for a fun practice, and having team members not being “bullied” by other players: A team to count on in every situation no matter if its’s during the game or outside the rink.
Joining a men’s team didn’t just give me strength and new friends, it gave me three fathers, 15 older brothers and two younger brothers.
Hockey isn’t just a fun hobby for me. Hockey gave me courage, a second family and the feeling to be wanted. It gave me a place in this world. My place in this world.” – Diana Jansen | Hockey Player | Germany