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My Experience Playing for the Washington Wild Female Hockey Association

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Playing girls hockey in a world where the sport is dominated by males is one of the most rewarding feelings for an athlete. It’s a chance to prove ourselves as worthy to be able to play a male dominated sport, to show that we can play just as well as the boys can, and to express the idea that hockey truly is for everyone. 

I grew up in a family who loves hockey. My dad plays goalie in the Kraken Adult Hockey League and has been playing for over 15 years and is still playing. My mom, my sister, and I, are all huge hockey fans ourselves. I was introduced to the sport of hockey at a very early age. It started out with coming downstairs and seeing the LA Kings play live on our TV screen, then going to my dad’s hockey games. But, I never thought that series of events would lead to me playing hockey as well. 

Growing up, playing hockey never crossed my mind. My dad would always ask me when I was little, “ When are you going to go ice skating with me?” “When are you going to try out playing hockey?”. And, as any little kid would be, I was annoyed after hearing those questions being asked almost every day for the majority of my childhood. Despite being asked those questions so frequently, playing hockey still never crossed my mind. Until 2022, when I started going back to Seattle Thunderbirds games and fell back in love with the sport. I had started going to their games around the age of 7 years old and had been going since until covid. I was inspired by their talent and how well the players worked together on the ice to make plays and score goals, I knew I wanted to be just like them. After realizing I was burnt out with gymnastics, I decided to make the change and I decided I wanted to play hockey. 

I started taking learn to play lessons in April of 2022 through the Kent Valley Hockey Association located in Kent, Washington. Although, I never actually wanted to take my learn to play classes through Kent, I wanted to take them through the Washington Wild Female Hockey Association, A girls only hockey association in the state of Washington. The only thing that stopped me was the drive that takes anywhere between 45 minutes to an hour. The Wild practice at the Kraken Community IcePlex and as a girl living in a small town, the drive just wasn’t suitable. I had taken two more series of learn to play lessons before finally signing up for my first official hockey season with the Kent Valley Hockey Association on their 14U team for the 2022-2023 season. 

My first year playing hockey had its ups and downs. I wasn’t the best athlete on the team, I was far from that. Although my skill level wasn’t anywhere near as close to my teammates, I still managed to have fun. My team had amazing chemistry and we just clicked together. That team felt so close, it felt just like a family. We had a lot of fun together at practices and tournaments which is where I made the most memories. We went almost undefeated that year. We lost 1 game and tied 2. But, when we got to the championship, we beat the team we lost to and the teams we tied. Our hard work paid off and we ended up winning the championship that year.

After my first season, I attended the USA Hockey Girls Clinic in the summer hosted by the Sno King Ameture Hockey Association. The best part about that camp was the environment. Everyone was so sweet and supportive regardless of skill level. It became evident to me after attending that camp that I wanted to play for the Washington Wild that upcoming season, playing hockey in an all girls environment never sounded better than it did in that moment. I had already signed up to play for Kent this upcoming season (2023-2024) but in the moment, that didn’t matter, I knew where I wanted to play. A few weeks before my season started I was emailing back and forth with one of the coaches from the Wild about transferring, but unfortunately nothing could be done because I couldn’t get a refund from Kent. Right away, I had a major down at Kent which made me really consider transferring again regardless if  I could get a refund or not, which is when I made the decision to dual roster this season with Kent and the Washington Wild. 

 In mid October, my dad had a hockey game of his own at KCI when he saw the Washington Wild girls practicing before his game. When their practice ended, he pulled the coach aside and told them a bit about me. One of the coaches remembered me because I had emailed with her back and forth in the summer about transferring and she then invited me to come and scrimmage with the team. After scrimmaging with the Wild for about two weeks I loved it so much. All of the girls were so supportive, sweet, fun, funny and I felt so comfortable around them. They were so welcoming to me and the coaches were amazing. Everything felt right there. I didn’t feel excluded, everyone’s skill levels were just about the same. It felt like a family there.

Photos taken by Meg Pattillo Valliant

Playing with the Washington Wild has changed my life in the best ways. It’s all about having fun and about the friendships you will make with your teammates. We’ve played tag together during dryland before practices and freeze tag on the ice during practice. We’ve blasted Taylor Swift in the locker room as we all sang along at the top of our lungs. I’ve made lifelong friendships and met some of my best friends there. I have the most phenomenal coaches who always encourage me and acknowledge me when my hard work pays off. We don’t get upset if we lose a game because in the end we had fun and that’s what matters the most. I finally feel like I fit in somewhere and I know I can be myself with my teammates at the Washington Wild. I feel comfortable around everyone and I’ve never been in such a welcoming and supportive environment like I am here with the Wild. I love feeling like I belong here and knowing that I’m loved by my teammates. Hockey has never been more fun and dual rostering this year is the best decision I’ve ever made. I want to shout out my amazing Washington Wild Coaches. Coach Meg, Sarah, Lisa, coach Sim and coach Brown. Thank you all for giving me the chance to play with you this season and finding a way to get me on the roster. You have made this year so memorable and amazing for me so far. Thank you for all of the work you put in with me on the ice to help me improve, I’ve noticed it paying off. You all make playing with this team so fun and memorable and playing for this organization is the best experience I’ve ever had playing hockey. Playing for the Washington Wild has given me a new appreciation for the sport of girls hockey and I cannot say enough how much I love it here. I’ve found a family in my teammates and coaches, this experience is so valuable to me and I’ve loved it every second I’ve been here. I always look forward to going to practices and games because I know I’ll always have an amazing time. 

To everyone at the Washington Wild Female Hockey Association, thank you for everything and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the season has to hold.

Photos taken by Meg Pattillo Valliant
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