Playing hockey with girls was simply not an option when I was growing up, but I did not let that stop me from joining the sport. When I started street hockey, I was one of two girls out of the entire boy’s dominant league and I could not believe how much fun I had at each game, and I actually had some skills!
When I aged out of the league, the next step was to join a boy’s ice hockey team, but my mom did not want me to get injured. Sadly, the only hockey I experienced was through watching my favorite NHL team, the Detroit Red Wings and it would be another 12 years before I played hockey again.
Fast forward to 2018, I found myself living in Fairbanks, Alaska (thanks U.S. Army) and happened to do a Google search. My love for hockey never ceases to exist and I keep my eyes peeled for adult leagues wherever I go. Low and behold, the Fairbanks Women’s Hockey Association existed and accepted new players every season. Tears of joy almost began streaming down my face when I found this league. Within the next six months, I began buying ice hockey equipment from the local Play it Again Sports and could not wait for October to come around.
Even though I had experience and a general knowledge of the game, I had never played with only women before, especially women who played at various levels, including some who even played college club ice hockey. Needless to say, I was extremely intimidated.
During my first game, I let my nerves get the best of me and during warm ups, I fell flat on my face. I felt like a huge failure. I am not going to mention how many times I was offside in the first period—I looked like I had never played before in my life. The only skill that saved me during the first game was my skating. If it were not for that, I swear I would’ve gotten kicked off the team.
After about five or six games, I truly felt as though I had become a part of the team. My feet became comfortable again using my ice skates and my breakaway speed came back. I began picking up little tips along the way from other players and was included in our game strategy conversations. Finally, I was starting to find my love for the game again and it felt amazing.
One thing I did not expect was to meet a group of women who all loved playing the game of hockey. Playing with women is an entirely different experience and it is a more welcoming and positive environment. The amount of fun I experienced during our games and our Friday night skates was unbelievable. I played more hockey in the 2018-2019 season than I ever have in my life and I am thankful the Fairbanks Women’s Hockey Association allowed me to live out my childhood dreams again. During the regular season I played 16 games, participated in two local tournaments and even joined a team that participated in the 2019 Las Vegas Women’s Hockey Tournament.
Unfortunately, I had to leave Alaska, but I was not ready to say goodbye to women’s hockey. Luckily for me, I knew of a friend who played ice hockey and she led me to a local team that is associated with the United Women’s Hockey League in New Jersey.
Until the U.S. Army decides where I go next, I’m playing defense on the Lady Jaguars team, out of Mt. Laurel, NJ and I love every minute of it.
Women’s hockey has had such a significant impact on my life and has taught me to push myself each game to get better and better. My hope is that wherever I land next, I will be able to find another group of women who enjoy this game as much as I do.
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