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PWHL Superfan Debbie Harrison Great for the Game (Part One)


As a lifelong hockey enthusiast, the PWHL has provided Debbie Harrison with a highly creative outlet. Gaining a celebrity status for her outfits, each game providing an opportunity for a new creation, she is an integral aspect of the league’s overall fan experience.

Detail oriented, dedicating approximately 20 hours to each outfit, the effort is highly evident once unveiled by Harrison at the arena. With her labors gaining the attention, and subsequent appreciation, by fans, players and officials alike, Harrison has emerged as the greatest feel-good story of the inaugural PWHL season.

“I have always been a hockey fan. Bobby Orr was one of my favorites growing up. As the Peterborough Petes and Oshawa Generals represented a 40-minute drive, I frequented games. When it came to women’s hockey, sometimes, you just did not know when things were happening.

Now, I am proud to be an involved fan. We need to make sure that the foundation is solid as fans have a big role. We need to support our home teams when we can. Every fan needs to introduce another person. By increasing the fan base, it is a perfect circle and we can all move ahead.”

Having attended every PWHL Toronto home game, Harrison’s devotion and enthusiasm were the template upon which other fans in attendance at the Mattamy Athletic Centre could emulate. Reflecting on the excitement of the inaugural season, the opening game on New Year’s Day stood as a seminal moment.

“Game One was such a very special day. It was a thrill to see the likes of Spooner, Fast, Cogan, Howe, Maltais, Bach and Jackson come out in the concourse. For New York, they had Saulnier, Shelton and Roque. What an awesome experience the entire game. There were lots of people to meet and when you have the experience of meeting the players, it really bonds you to the team.”

The opening game provided for another memorable first impression. Representing the first outfit crafted by Harrison, the need came out of necessity. Having ordered a PWHL Toronto jersey, the disappointment of not receiving it in time for January 1 proved to be a blessing in disguise, resulting in a heartwarming outcome that set the tone for an empowering time.

Harrison’s first outfit became a social media phenomenon. Garbed as a giant purple crayon, including a placard requesting that PWHL Purple become a new Crayola color, the response proved compelling and encouraging, demonstrating the growing influence of women’s sports. With a remarkable social media post by Crayola Canada celebrating power play plum as a color of the day, Harrison quickly became a cult hero among PWHL supporters.

“I started making the outfits although I aimed for it to be more PWHL based. The Crayon outfit was my first and someone put it on social media. All the positive things that happened from that, then a month or so later, Crayola stepped in.”

Certainly, the most unique elements of all the outfits are the quality. Made with pride, the sense of authenticity and passion are reflected in every outstanding creation. As the feedback from fans provides plenty of encouragement, one particular outfit provided a pleasant surprise.

“In approaching how I create my outfits, it is all about the details. I remember going to one of the games in the Reserve Player outfit, and I received such a positive response from fans. You make these outfits because you love hockey.

When I made the referee jersey, I made sure to have the purple armbands (worn by the PWHL referees) as it was important to acknowledge them. I was near the glass at the blueline when one referee came over to me and was taken aback. Afterwards, he called over the other three officials. We all stood together for a picture. They even stayed there for the singing of the national anthem. That was such a cool experience with them.”

Image obtained from:

Every game represents an enjoyable outing for Harrison. Despite the extensive travel time, it encompasses part of a highly admirable commitment. That type of infectious enthusiasm makes meeting Harrison at a Toronto home game an important must for numerous fans.

For fans unable to attend games, social media provides a unique connection. Considering the numerous photos posted on various platforms in the aftermath of another Toronto home game, it is not uncommon to find one featuring a smiling Harrison garbed in her newest creation. While fans remained eagerly curious throughout the season to see a new outfit, compelled by the creativity, Harrison’s motivation stemmed from positivity.    

“I love to come to every game and I am fortunate to have season tickets. Usually, I arrive about an hour before the game and it is non-stop before puck drop. It is fun to meet the fans, to do pictures and have conversations. I am always told, ‘We cannot wait to see what your next outfit will look like.’ Each game is a five-hour round trip, but it is very enjoyable travel.

Looking back on it, I did not start making the outfits to draw attention to myself. I was hoping it would bring positive attention to the league. I always thought, ‘How can I be a real fan? How can I show how much I love being at the games?’. (Therefore), I started making the outfits.”

Overall, the fan experience for a jubilant Harrison is also reciprocal. As home teams host postgame autograph sessions, it is not uncommon for several visiting players to participate. As a pair of Harrison’s favorites wear the Montreal paraphernalia, their effort to greet the fans despite being banged up after the game proved inspiring, embodying the essence of positivity that has defined the inaugural PWHL season.

“After the game, Toronto has players sit at the table to sign autographs. Some members of the visiting team also come up too. One game against Montreal stood out. Marie-Philip Poulin had a sore knee, while Laura Stacey had been hit frequently in the game.

Afterwards, both came to the top, up 45 steps to meet with every little girl and boy, along with this big girl too (laughs). It really made an impression. They are two of my favorites. Also, Mélodie Daoust, in one of the games against Toronto where the team activated her, came to the top and it was a real honor to meet her.”

All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated

Image with PWHL Officials obtained from:

All other images by Lori Bolliger Photography

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In this article: #ProfessionalWomensHockey, #ProHockey, #WomenInSport, #Womenshockey, #WomensWorlds, Debbie Harrison, grow the game, Hockey, Hockey Community, PWHL, PWHL Superfan, PWHL Toronto

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