November 29, 2005 > No Boys Allowed
No Boys Allowed
by Ceri Hitchcock-Hodgson
Cutting across the rink, ice flying from the blades of razor-sharp skates, eyes on the goal, the player has total control over the puck with a narrow wooden stick. Faster and faster, the player charges toward the goal, teammates and opposition following closely behind. Eyes locked with the goalie, the skater charges forward and - SLAM! True to the nature of hockey, the opposing team tries to thwart the skater's advancement with a body check that does little to deter the player with the puck. The hockey player picks up speed, fakes a pass to a teammate and, in a blink-you'll-miss-it moment, the black puck darts into the net. The buzzer sounds, signaling another victory for the undefeated team. The scoring player is hoisted on to teammates' shoulders as they begin to holler and cheer for winning player Smith - number 85, Chloe Smith.
Women have professionally played this notoriously rough sport for over a century. They can even be credited with making the game safer, for goalies in particular. The first goalie to use a mask during a game was Canadian Elizabeth Graham who, in 1927, used a fencing mask to protect her face while protecting the goal. Masks were uncommon in hockey until 1959 when Canadian goalie Jacques Plante began wearing one after having broken his skull, cheekbones, nose and jaw during numerous clashes with the flying puck.
Although women's hockey has received attention from our Northern neighbors for quite some time, the sport began to garner attention in the United States when the U.S. Women's Hockey Team won gold at the 1998 Winter Olympics in Nagano, Japan. It was the inaugural year for women's hockey in the Olympics and America took note. In 2002, the U.S. Women's team took silver. Now, they are looking forward to the 2006 Olympics in Turin, Italy.
Bridget Teodoro, president of the Northern California Women's Hockey League, would like to see the sport receive consistent attention. A number of girls and women who would otherwise play hockey simply are not aware of the NCWHL, which is one-of-a-kind in the area. The NCWHL provides women with a place to play ice hockey against each other in an all-female environment where sports(wo)manship and fair play is a must.
The NCWHL began in the summer of 1993 with former University of Connecticut ice hockey club team member Theresa Green. Having just moved to the Bay Area from Connecticut, she was concerned about the lack of women's hockey in the area and decided to take action. She wrote personal notes, created a registration form and posted flyers in local ice rinks. Green discovered that she could buy ice time and uniforms if at least 52 women signed up; and the NCWHL was born.
Green established a recreational league for women of all abilities and ages. Girls from age 14, former professional players and novice grandmothers all play in the NCWHL. Parity is maintained by having teams comprised of similarly skilled and experienced players. There is a place for any woman or girl over 13 in the NCWHL where a placement test decides positions and divisions. Although the league is currently in the middle of its season, a few spots remain at different levels.
NCWHL takes place at several rinks throughout the Bay Area including our very own Sharks Ice at Fremont, located at 44338 Old Warm Springs, Fremont, (510) 623-7200.
For more information on this emerging and exciting league, visit www.ncwhl.com.
Schedule of upcoming games in Fremont:
Friday, December 2 at 9:00 p.m.
Sunday, December 4 at 2:30 p.m.
Sunday, December 4 at 4:00 p.m.
Friday, December 9 at 9:00 p.m.