What if your dream came true? What if your crazy, fun, adventurous idea actually became reality? Well in the realm of hockey, ours did and this is our story.
After watching the movie, The Bucket List, we discussed our own bucket list items. We both had one thing in common: wouldn’t it be awesome to go see one home game at EVERY NHL arena in one season? We were hockey players, coaches, and fans. True “hockey nuts” as the phrase has been coined. What hockey fan, player, and/or coach wouldn’t have this on their bucket list? We dreamed about it and the discussion ended without further plans.
However, a few years later we found ourselves at the perfect time in life to take this trip. And so we did. During the 2011-2012 hockey season, we left our jobs for four months and made this dream a reality.
30 games, 2 fans, 1 season.
Was it easy? No. Were there hiccups? Yes. Did it cost a fortune? You have no idea. Was it worth it? Beyond a doubt.
The Hockey Tour is this story. We didn’t take this trip to write a book, but we were encouraged by many people toward the end of it to do so. After a three year labor of love, the book was published. I’m writing this article for WHL because there are SO MANY members of our group who don’t live anywhere close to NHL cities. I hope this allows you to feel like you know what the league is like and become more a part of the hockey community. I also wrote this article because there are so many women (of all ages) who have goals and dreams in the hockey world. The message is, “DO IT! NOTHING is too big if you set your mind to accomplish it.”
There are road blocks on any journey worth anything. Don’t let that stop you. It took us over a week just to make the schedule. Drafts upon drafts. The problem? Just because we were in one area, didn’t mean that team was home during that same time. We had a trash can full of drafts of a schedule before it actually worked. Keep persisting!!! Obstacles can become stepping stones or stumbling blocks, you CHOOSE. One of us was granted a leave of absence from work. The other was not. I had to quit my job and risk it all to make this happen. Ladies, now is the time. Live those dreams! That is the essence of our book.
The whole purpose of our “NHL Tour” was to see one home game at every NHL arena in one season. However, it grew to be much more that. There were six key aspects (some planned, but most not) that one will read about in almost every stop along our journey.
1. Life lessons: There are so many life lessons that we saw in action on this trip, we had to include them. The concept of putting your priorities first, the serendipity of being in the right place at the right time, the idea of paying it forward, to the importance of gratitude, the value in team, the essence of persistence, and the one theme that underlies the book, make your dreams reality.
2. Arenas: Our trip also allowed us to be connoisseurs of arenas in general. We give pros, cons, bonus points, and demerits for the good and bad of each rink. Our hope is that our readers feel like they ‘have been there’ after reading about that rink.
3. Fans: The fans were some of the best parts of our trip. Long before we took the trip, we decided we would be home town fans at every game. We threw ourselves into the culture and chanted along with the crowd to really get a feel of each team’s ‘home ice advantage.’ When watching games now, we can still hear their songs, chants, and taunts as described.
4. Teams: There is consistency and there is individuality. One well known example is that each team recognizes members of the military every game. Consistency is present and important throughout the league. However each team has its own individual characteristics and that is what made it really fun to take this trip. We got to know each team. For example, did you know the Capitals have a promotion just for women’s outreach? Yup, the Scarlet Caps have hockey 101 classes, skills clinics with players, film sessions with coaches, and much more. This is just one small example of the uniqueness of what a team offers and what we encountered.
5. Tourism: To accomplish our goal we had to make sure we didn’t miss one game. That made us be in town a day before the game, which gave us time to explore the (then) 30 NHL cities of North America. Our book highlights the local attractions and famous foods of that area. It also shows how certain teams brings the city into the rink and how the cities embrace their teams.
6. The unexpected: Some of the NHL teams caught wind of what we were doing and we were blessed with behind the scenes tours of the rinks, in game interviews, green screen videos, some history of the teams and cultures and many other vantage points of the game (as in the AV production of an NHL game). It was more than we expected.
In full disclosure, please remember this was the 2011-2012 season, therefore Vegas is not included. Do we plan to continue the tour? ABSOLUTELY! We just haven’t done it yet. That will be in the second edition. But until that happens, for now, our hope is that The Hockey Tour creates new hockey fans, encourages current fans to become more in-depth fans, and most importantly inspires our readers to live their dreams… NOW.
We are women, we are hockey players, we are strong, and we can do anything we set our minds to do. A new season is upon us. The NHL has started, the youth is beginning, and high school is about to begin here in Minnesota. Set your goals, live your dreams, and do it now. What are you waiting for?
Get the book (we feel most appropriate for high school age and above):
Read a chapter (a part of the St. Louis Blues chapter is on the website): https://www.thehockeytour.com/read-a-chapter
Thanks for reading!
If you want to meet others with a love for the game, join our WHL Community Facebook group to ask questions, share advice, and talk all things women’s hockey.