A True Believer
I think I can remember my response when I first stumbled upon the news that hockey is played by women.
It was something like this.
Now, I am no hockey novice, and in fact I can trace my the roots of my hockey fanaticism back to the late 1960â€™s. But I was slow to catch up to the notion that the game was not a menâ€™s-only domain, that one can think pink in the rink. I can clearly remember my response when I actually saw hockey played by women.
It was exactly this.
It didnâ€™t take me long before I forgot I was watching womenâ€™s hockey, in this case, an ECAC playoff game pitting Harvard and New Hampshire.
Heck, I was simply watching hockey. (“Hey, they block shots, they make great saves, the score nifty goals. Wow indeed!”) Except for a few pony tails flapping from from beneath a few helmets, I couldnâ€™t tell the difference.
Before I knew it, I was hooked. On the game, and on the people.
What grabbed me immediately was slick stick handling of UNH freshman Brandy Fisher, the passion for the game that was shared by both teams, the refusal to quit and the feeling of disgust at the very idea of accepting defeat.
This was back in 1995, before the Wildcats would move into the gleaming new Whittemore Center. Before Harvard became studded with stars named Botterill, Shewchuk, and Mleczko. Before there was an womenâ€™s NCAA championship, or even an AWCHA. Before Chanda Gunn would win a humanitarian award, much less have one named after her.
Before there was a five-overtime epic, which during the final intermission, then-UNH coach Karen Kay threatened to parade through her dressing room wearing the head of Wild E. Cat. Before Sara DaCosta would make 70 save performances seem so matter of fact. It was before there was a Kazmaier Award, but not before there was a Kazmaier legacy.
Before the Western front of womenâ€™s college hockey pushed itself past Cornell to Ohio State, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Duluth. Before Shannon Miller dyed her dark brown hair a brilliant shade of gold on the eve of her UMD team winning its second of three NCAA titles. And of course, it was before Nagano and Salt Lake and Turin, when countless more “Whatâ€™s?” were converted to “Wows!”
Iâ€™m of the opinion that the best always lies ahead, which is why Iâ€™m so excited about the opportunity given to me by USCHO.com to write about womenâ€™s Division I hockey each week.
I believe that for all that has been accomplished by the gameâ€™s pioneers, there is more in store. More to see. More to write about. More to share.
Much more to come.