The Time for Women’s Hockey is Now
by Kristin Battestella
Several years ago, I entered the ice rink and saw a small boy struggling with the door to the ice. Any rink rat knows those ice doors are hefty with mechanisms difficult to close. I told him I had it, shutting the door as some guy in the stands shouted, “What are you a wuss? A girl had to close the door for you?”
I haven’t been a girl since the mid-nineties when I first played ice hockey in the local boys’ league. Similar hecklers would shout then that I shouldn’t be there because girls can’t play hockey. The irony is women have been playing ice hockey as long as men. The National Women’s Hockey League’s Isobel Cup is named after Lord Stanley’s daughter, and photos of Isobel on the ice in her Victorian bustle endure alongside dozens more pictures of Gibson Girls skating for teams such as the Vancouver Amazons and the Seattle Vamps.
Women’s ice hockey first drew international attention when debuting at the 1998 Nagano Olympic games. Goaltender Manon Rheaume had played in pre-season games for the National Hockey League’s expansion Tampa Bay Lightning several years prior, but many viewed her time in net as a publicity stunt. However, the U.S. National Team beating Canada to win gold inspired thousands of girls to take up the sport. USA Hockey experienced exponential… Continue reading in SEARCH Magazine’s Spring 2020 issue.