Sauce Us a Follow

Women’s hockey memorabilia highlights 12th You Can Play Auction


With the skyrocketing popularity of women’s sports, highlighted by the success of the PWHL and the 2024 WNBA Draft Class, headlined by Caitlin Clark, a demand for memorabilia and merchandise is poised to increase rapidly. As the You Can Play (YCP) organization, dedicated to the safety and inclusion for all who participate in sports, provides unique access to some treasured items with their 12th Auction, a unique linkage to women’s ice hockey is evident.

Signed sticks by Hockey Hall of Famers Jayna Hefford, Angela James and Angela Ruggiero represents only part of the narrative. Enjoying an important role in the YCP leadership structure, goaltending great Mandy Cronin serves as the Head of Corporate Partnerships and Fundraising. Having worked tirelessly to procure the impressive collection of sports memorabilia and mementos, Cronin’s range has extended beyond hockey.

As professional women’s soccer becomes the next chapter in Toronto’s sporting conversation, paraphernalia from the AFC Toronto club, one of the charter franchises of the exciting Northern Super League, is also available. In the bigger picture, the NSL provides another wonderful opportunity for partnership, exemplifying the importance of inclusion.   

“I have been involved as the head of fundraising for one year. Currently, the auction has been a key focus. I have sourced every product that is on there. It is awesome to have so many great donated items.  We want to get the items in front of people who need to see it.”

Graduating from the University of Maine in 2002 with the program record for career shutouts, Cronin’s professional sojourn included stops with the Brampton Thunder, Burlington Barracudas and proud standing as a charter member of the Boston Blades.

After hanging up her skates, Cronin remained highly occupied in the sporting realm. In addition to the successful M-Power hockey school, she would take on coaching duties with the University of Toronto, the city she currently calls home. During the 2019-20 PHF season, she took on General Manager duties with the Buffalo Beauts, one of three women in such a role, including Kate Annis (Metropolitan Riveters) and Bray Ketchum (Whale).  

Coincidentally, the current PWHL provides a unique linkage for Cronin. Also, a goaltender, Carly Jackson, who spent the past season as a charter member of PWHL Toronto, once stood between the pipes for the Beauts. Open about her same-sex status, the presence of YCP is one that represents encouragement. Undeniably, an athlete such as Jackson, whose achievements include the 2023 Isobel Cup, is an inspiration for younger LGBT athletes to have the confidence to pursue their own athletic dreams.

Following the popularity of the inaugural PWHL season, which saw Jackson’s Toronto team finish first overall in the league standings, four PWHL tickets for Season Two, graciously donated by Canadian Tire, also a YCP corporate partner, representing one of the Auction’s most popular offerings.

As the Auction stands among Cronin’s recent fundraising efforts for YCP, other women’s ice hockey memorabilia include items from a pair of American icons. A signed jersey and photo by Meghan Duggan, plus a speaking engagement and signed stick by Julie Chu, both teammates at the 2010 and 2014 Winter Games. Of note, Chu, akin to Cronin, also calls Canada home, serving as head coach for Montreal’s Concordia Stingers, winners of the 2024 Golden Path Trophy.

Considering that Toronto shall be home to a WNBA franchise in 2026, a unique auction item also represents a great moment in league history. A basketball signed by the Chicago Sky roster that participated in the first WNBA game contested in Canada is available, along with a T-shirt signed by Diana Taurasi, the league’s all-time leading scorer. Worth noting, Leah McNab, a Managing Director of NBA Canada, was crucial in helping make the WNBA match between Chicago and the Minnesota Lynx, contested at Toronto’s Scotiabank Centre, a highly exciting, and historic reality.

Fittingly, the WNBA memorabilia, the opportunities have definitely represented a unique element of growth for Cronin. With a career defined by hockey, the commitment towards inclusion features a much broader scope, encompassing more sports. Between the anticipation for AFC Toronto in 2025, followed by Toronto’s WNBA entry one year later, Cronin holds the potential to bring the positive message of inclusion to a wider audience.     

“A big part of my past is so hockey focused. In my freshman year at the University of Maine, I was also the goalkeeper on the soccer team. Prior to college, I played in many sports. By the time I graduated from Maine, it was hockey, hockey, hockey. Although my current role is not so hockey focused, I want to continue to make a difference. The inclusion effort is important, as we want to make sure no one has to quit playing. It is important to ensure opportunities exist.

I have worked closely with the NSL and AFC Toronto. This year, the PGA and USTA have come on board as partners. I work to continue to make a different in women’s sports. Now, I have a wider reach but we want to make sure that no one is left out.”

Such growth can only help bring positive change for locker room and spectator culture. An essential component for Cronin and the other leaders at YCP is through inclusivity training. With ambitions towards safer access to sports, approximately 2700 individuals underwent a training program, orchestrated by YCP, in 2022. The number of participants jumped to over 3000 in 2023, an encouraging increase.

Hoping for an even greater number this year, YCP continuously aims towards establishing stronger fan engagement, aspiring for a more inclusive environment for LGBTQ youth to participate in sport. Certainly, fundraisers such as the auction, and the prospects of gaining more partnerships will also create opportunities for YCP to grow their programming, possibly adding team members to the staff. Creating a win-win situation, ensuring no one is left out, keeping the continued goal of inclusion and awareness more within reach.

“One of your biggest features is our aim to educate, to train and create allies. In speaking with coaches, staff and administrators, we hope that they can create awareness, and leverage what they have to create a safe space. An online education system (Allyship 101) is another opportunity to increase our range as the participants can take the message and amplify it. To break down barriers to inclusion training, we want our participants to feel more empowered. Hopefully, this can have a trickle down effect, raising more awareness.”

To learn more about the You Can Play Auction, please visit:

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In this article: #Community, #HockeyForAll, #HockeyForLife, #WomenInSport, #Womenshockey, grow the game, Hockey, Hockey Community, inclusion, Non-Profit Organization, PWHL, PWHL Toronto, sports, Womens Sports, You Can Play, You Can Play Auction

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