Female Hockey Fans And Their Love For The Game: THE ANSWERS

Three days ago I posted a message at HH requesting the help of several female hockey fans to answer a few basic questions and show us that hockey is more and more embraced by women all around North America.

Below you will find the answers of eight passionate hockey fans:

How did you become a hockey fan?

At the age of eight it wasn’t so much about watching it on TV (short attention span, sue me), I really just enjoyed playing it in gym class (it also helped that the gym teacher was someone very dedicated to the sport. He made each session into a lesson about teamwork and life, much in the ways the man he now is an assistant coach for in Hamilton has for the various players he has taught over the years!) The watching-it part came later on when watching Mark Recchi play for the Habs. Every other player on the ice loomed over him but he managed to outsmart them all multiple times. His resiliency and dedication made him quite the role model and his teammates, while not exactly as talented as those from the dynasty years my dad always brags about, were all about working hard each game.

Did you play hockey? Or do you still play hockey?
I played cosom hockey from about the third grade to my last year of CEGEP (in tournaments), because my skating abilities are barely at the intermediate stage (“stopping” = “skating into things so that I’m able to slow down into an eventual stop”). Every now and then my brother and I will have a little street hockey session, in which I almost always refuse to be the goaltender but when I am, chaos ensues.

What is your favorite team? Why?
The Montreal Canadiens. Part home-team, part see-question-one.

Do you attend games in person or simply watch them on TV/over the Internet?
I’ve been to games from 7 different leagues, most frequently the NHL and the QMJHL, but I can only really afford to see an average of 3 NHL games per year and only slightly more (that I actually pay for) from the Q.

How do your close relatives and friends perceive your love for hockey?
They see it as my undeniable passion. The male ones in particular like to antagonize my teams and players (jokingly) because they know how protective I am of them, but I’m also a bit of their reference when it comes to start times or standings/statistical references. The females who are only beginning to understand the game ask me lots of questions from what offside means to everything about drafts and what affiliate leagues mean to one another.

Kathy, 23, Montreal, Quebec

How did you become a hockey fan?

My ex-husband was from Boston and a fan of the Boston Bruins. We were married at the time when the Nashville Predators were forming and shared full season tickets with another couple. We went to their very first game and I got hooked on the Preds and the sport. We’ve been divorced since then but I’m still loving my Preds and going to the games.

Did you play hockey? Or do you still play hockey? I don’t play hockey

What is your favorite team? Nashville Predators (Of course)

Why? Because as a native of Nashville, I can really “connect” with this team. They were formed and organized in Nashville. Unlike our pro-football team (Titans) that started out in Houston Texas. As a season ticket holder, the Preds staff are a great group of people and from what I can tell, they really appreciate their season ticket holders and their fans for coming out. I’ve went to a few Titans games in the past and from my impression, I NEVER gotten that same feeling like I do for the Predators.

Do you attend games in person or simply watch them on TV/over the Internet?
A combination of all three (Attend the games, watch on TV/Internet) and listen to them on the radio.

How do your close relatives and friends perceive your love for hockey?
They know me as a rabid fan and when time comes for me to attend a Preds game, they know that I will be there and I don’t hear any complaints from them about it.

Amy Dawson, 39, Nashville, Tennessee

How did you become a hockey fan?

I became a hockey fan when I started dating my now-husband. He would watch the Flyers and explain the game to me. We double-dated to my first hockey game. It was the Phantoms vs. the Hershey Bears. At the end of the game, both sides dropped their gloves and then the goalies went at it. I was hooked. I love the speed and intensity of the game. We bought an 11-game package for the Flyers in 2005. Then bought season tickets for 2006. We haven’t looked back since. The first year I saw playoff hockey at the Wachovia was unbelievable. The building was so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think. When we won the game, perfect strangers were hugging each other and high-fiving. It was an incredible experience.

Did you play hockey? Or do you still play hockey?
No and no.

What is your favorite team? Why?
The Philadelphia Flyers are my favorite team. They’re a gritty but skilled team and I love their swagger. I know Philly fans have a bad reputation but they’re passionate and dedicated to their team. I think the majority of Philly fans are good people who truly love the game. Yes, there are some idiots who drink too much and get obnoxious but I believe that happens in every stadium.

While I am a Flyers fan first, I am also a huge hockey fan. I recently saw my first Washington Capitals game at the Verizon Center in DC and it was fun. The Caps are a talented team and their fans are very polite. They didn’t boo the refs or chant “insert name here…sucks”. They cheered for their team often. It was a complete culture shift for me. :o) I struck up a conversation with the woman sitting next to me and since the Flyers weren’t playing the Caps, I was free to “Rock the Red”. It helped that Mike Knuble, a former Flyer is on the team. Other teams I enjoy watching are the Washington Capitals, the Detroit Red Wings, the LA Kings, the Chicago Blackhawks, the San Jose Sharks, and the Columbus Blue Jackets. I also like the Boston Bruins.

My personal goal is to see a hockey game in as many stadiums as possible. I really want to get to the Shark Tank and see games in the Canadian stadiums too.

Do you attend games in person or simply watch them on TV/over the Internet?
I attend home games in person as often as I am able. I’d say I miss maybe 5 or 6 games a year. We watch the away games on TV. We’ve even purchased the NHL sports package from Comcast so we can see all of the playoff games. In fact, I’m watching the Detroit/Phoenix game right now. The San Jose Sharks/Dallas Stars series a couple of years ago nearly killed me because I was staying up late to watch the games and then getting up early to go to work.

How do your close relatives and friends perceive your love for hockey?
My husband is thrilled although he had no idea I’d become so invested in the game. We’ve participated in a fantasy hockey league for the past two years. I finished second both years, losing the first year to my husband and this year to the best man at our wedding. I’m pretty proud to have finished so well since I run my own team. My friends and family think I’m hockey obsessed and they’re not wrong. The guys I work with think it’s pretty cool and we talk hockey regularly. At the start of this season, I pulled together a group of Flyers fans from work and we attended the first practice of season. I love attending the prospect game during the summer. It helps feed my hockey fix and I get to see the new guys before they join the big club.

I have had some older male fans dismiss me as if my opinion isn’t valid because I’m a girl but that doesn’t happen very often.

Liza Gardner, 38, Quinton, New Jersey

How did you become a hockey fan?

You know, I can’t really say. Nobody else in my family likes hockey, but I remember Team USA winning the gold in 1980. That was pretty amazing. I was only nine at the time, but we watched as much of the Olympics as we could, and I remember the big, BIG excitement about the ‘Miracle on Ice’, even from people who could’ve cared less about hockey. It was THAT huge.
When I was 14, in the spring of 1985, I went on my first trip to Europe. I was walking around with my friend AJ between flights in Zurich airport, and he had on his sports letter jacket with our home town on the back. We hear this voice behind us go, “Suffield?” We’re looking around, thinking we have some smart allecks from our group playing games on us, and we see this group of athletic-looking guys standing there, and one of the guys goes, “Suffield, CONNECTICUT?”
It turns out these guys were from the Hartford Whalers – they were on their way to play in the 1985 World Ice Hockey Championships in Czechoslovakia – and the guy doing the asking was the team’s rookie: Kevin Dineen. Talk about funny circumstances: here’s this new rookie for the Whalers being tickled pink he sees some kids from Connecticut walking around Zurich airport; and here’s two high school kids being absolutely floored to *be stopped by the Hartford Whalers*. But the guys were absolutely sweet and I still have the envelope that Dineen signed for me.
Needless to say, that pretty much cemented Kevin Dineen into being my favorite hockey player of all time, and I followed the Whalers from then on. Nobody else in my family liked hockey, though, so it was not until college that I actually got to attend a professional hockey game. My high school and college both had decent teams.

Did you play hockey? Or do you still play hockey?
I played field hockey – I was the goalie. At the time (mid-1980s), ice hockey for girls simply wasn’t an option in my area. And although the rules of the conference for my high school stated that if there was no female equivalent team, girls were supposed to be allowed to play on the boys’ team, it was still much more a “theory rather than practice” thing. A friend of mine who was on the boys’ hockey team told me the coach was so sexist that I would’ve had to have been twice as good as the best male player just to get *looked* at, never mind make it onto the team. So I stuck with field hockey.
Lately, I’ve been thinking I’d like to take some lessons and maybe play it recreationally. My best friend is a goalie for a rec league in western Michigan, and he’s played pretty much all his life.

What is your favorite team? Why?
Chicago Blackhawks. I used to be a big Whalers fan, obviously, but after the team got moved down to North Carolina, I followed them while Dineen was still on the team. He went to the Senators the year I moved to Chicago, and well – it took me about all of 30 seconds to embrace the Blackhawks as my new hometown team. I’ve lived in Chicago 11 years now, and I love the team dearly, and I imagine I will for the rest of my life. They have great history, they have great heart, and it is just one of those teams. It’s like the video they play at the start of the games – “Hockey never left Chicago. But it certainly has returned.”

Do you attend games in person or simply watch them on TV/over the Internet?
I attend as many live games as I can afford. When I was in college, and for the years I lived in North Carolina (pre-Hurricanes), me and my roommates would watch our college team, or we would go watch AHL/ECHL games for about $5. The arenas were small and every seat was great.
My first NHL game was the Blackhawks back in 1999 for my 29th birthday. Four friends made the trek to Chicago – they were all lifelong Blackhawks fans, so it was a great occasion for all of us to go to the game. We had nosebleed seats, absolutely, but had a wonderful time. I went to whatever games I could over the past 11 years, but this year I have really made an effort to attend as many as possible. (I’m on the waiting list for season tickets.)
Such a relief when Rocky Wirtz took over and started broadcasting home games on local TV – thank you, Rocky Wirtz!!

Hockey Broad, 39, Chicago, Illinois

How did you become a hockey fan?

I just started blogging at HI this week, and how I got into the sport was the crux of my first post.

I was bored in the baseball offseason and happened to notice my grandfather watching a New York Rangers game one Saturday evening and it was love at first sight. That being said, I am a Rangers fan.

Did you play hockey? Or do you still play hockey?
I haven’t/don’t play the sport, unless you count one game of floor hockey in college. I have contemplated learning how to play, but I’m not sure my back would be receptive to it.

What is your favorite team? Why?
I’ve had an 11-game ticket plan with the rangers for the last 4 seasons, and sometimes go to other Rangers game outside of those in my plan (did 2 Rangers-Isles at the Coliseum this season). I’m not adverse to attending games where I have no rooting interest and have done so (Habs-Sens in MTL this past October – Kovalev’s regular-season return to Bell Centre in the Sens uni). I do watch my team on TV and also watch other teams as well. Love the Rangers, but I do love the sport as a whole.

Do you attend games in person or simply watch them on TV/over the Internet?
I’m sure there are some people who think I can be a bit much, but no one’s ever told me to my face. My brother and my mom are both big Rangers fans (Mom and I do go to some games together). But in all honesty, I’ve found it more of an asset – I’ve become acquaintances with people because of it.

Cris Cohen, 34, Queens, New York

How did you become a hockey fan?

It was a gradual process. As a kid fooled around with sticks and pucks on the ice as part of childhood pond skating games. Dated a couple high school hockey players. In college went to a few games. It wasn’t until I was out of school that I really appreciated what skill hockey players possessed to play a high speed and highly coordinated game. I like to describe it as beautifully violent.

Did you play hockey? Or do you still play hockey?
I tried! I thought I would ease into it by playing pond hockey like I did as a kid and didn’t really work on any skating or drills or anything so when I went up against a competitive Hockey Dad and his hockey-lets with my guy for a little pickup pond game I got back checked into a snowbank and broke my ankle. Still, a moment of glory for being carried into the ER in a Habs jersey. Played a little post happy hour games with friends on local ice, torn ACL. Just skating now, no more hockey for a while (aside from NHL10!)

What is your favorite team? Why?
The Canadiens. I grew up in Connecticut and was familiar with THE Whalers but lived in a non-sporting household so I was never brought to games or any type. I know I would be a Whalers fan now had they been kept in Hartford. My love for the Canadiens grew as I made a couple trips to Quebec as I was really getting into NHL hockey. I won’t root for NYC teams so the Rangers were out. (I will go to Rangers games because they are local enough.) The Bruins just piss me off, a natural enemy to Hartford and Montreal so they were out. I go up to Montreal at least once a year for a game and try to see them locally (Rangers/Devils/Iles) a couple times a year.

Do you attend games in person or simply watch them on TV/over the Internet?
I can’t attend as many live NHL games as I would like. MSG, the closest, is an hour and a half away. I do attend AHL games in Bridgeport and Hartford CT. A newly formed league, the FHL will start playing in November and the Danbury Whalers are 10 minutes from me so I’m sure that will be a weekly hockey fix. Otherwise I try to watch games on TV or the internet and get updates sent to my phone.

How do your close relatives and friends perceive your love for hockey?
My family doesn’t get it. They’re not sports fans so I don’t expect them to. All they know is I’m having fun. They pretty much ignore my hockey fandom. My friends think it’s cute. Okay, I think they thought it was a little weird when we did a pinup shoot and I did mine in a jersey and hockey socks. I thought it was brilliant. Otherwise, all my friends have different interests and it’s what makes us fun. Besides, it’s easier for my girls to ask me a “dumb” question about hockey than some guy who will make her feel stupid.

Robin Morena, 33, Bethel, Connecticut

How did you become a hockey fan?

My Dad has three daughters, my twin sister and I were his “boys” we grew up watching sports but found our love of hockey all on our own. Loved the fast pace of the game. Hockey is my favorite sport to watch in person and on TV

Did you play hockey? Or do you still play hockey?
Never played hockey.

What is your favorite team? Why?
The Los Angeles Kings, growing up the Kings were the only team in town, I have followed them for over 20 years. Never jumped on the Ducks band-wagon even though I grew up in Orange County.

Do you attend games in person or simply watch them on TV/over the Internet?
My sister and I have season tickets to the Los Angeles Kings, I have the center ice package and follow most hockey blogs online. We never miss a home game.

How do your close relatives and friends perceive your love for hockey?
They are used to it, it is just me.

Susan O’Donnell, 44, Costa Mesa, California

How did you become a hockey fan?

My Dad took me to a Chicago Blackhawks game in 1979 at the old Chicago Stadium when I was 10 years old. I didn’t think much of the whole thing until the National Anthem started. It was surreal: the noise, the enthusiasm, the energy. I paid attention to the game as my Dad explained hockey to me. I will never forget the intensity of the players, the speed of the game and the awesome crowd who just never seemed to let up. I had been to professional baseball, basketball and football games already by that time and none of those sports could compare to the excitement that was the hockey game I experienced that night. I became a fan for life.

After graduating from Indiana University in 1991, I lived in Indianapolis for almost 2 years. Being away geographically from the NHL, I forced my boyfriend to take me to Indianapolis Ice games at the State Fairgrounds. I believe at the time they were an Islanders farm team. Attending those games for $5 and seeing the grit of those up-and-coming players REALLY got me interested in learning more about the game. You couldn’t get better and more affordable entertainment straight out of college, unemployed, during a recession, than watching IHL hockey! It was ALWAYS exciting!!

Did you play hockey? Or do you still play hockey?
I did not play hockey, but did learn how to ice skate on a pond in suburban Chicago and my three daughters all learned how to skate by the age of 6.

What is your favorite team? Why?
My favorite team is obviously the Chicago Blackhawks being born and raised in suburban Chicago. I have been a fan for 30 years and have stuck with them through the ups and downs of the franchise – always following them in the paper and trying to watch games on TV. I remember those years where there were some empty seats in the stadium and it seemed like no one cared about hockey in Chicago. But I always did and that did not take away from my love of the game and appreciation for the players. Now to be a Blackhawk fan in 2010 is the most exciting time ever, but I have pride in knowing that I was still a fan and a supporter all of the years prior, attending games, and still keeping hope alive as best I could!

Do you attend games in person or simply watch them on TV/over the Internet?
Every year for about the last 8 years or so, my husband has taken me to a Blackhawks game on my birthday in January. Some years, that was the only game we were able to attend being a young couple with limited resources. Some years we made it to two, maybe three. This year we have been to 3 home games (including game 5 vs. Nashville- the game that will forever stick in my memory as the greatest sporting event I have witnessed live), and we also traveled to St. Louis to watch the Hawks play the Blues. We plan on attending at least one more home playoff game per round if we can and if they continue to win! Next year we plan on taking our three daughters on some hockey “road trips” to watch the Blackhawks….possibly to Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis and Detroit. Supporting your team on the road is really fun!

How do your close relatives and friends perceive your love for hockey?
Our close relatives appreciate hockey but do not go to many games. They watch on TV and I think they think we are a bit fanatic. My husband and I are just very passionate and both love the game so much so I think they are surprised by how much we have grown to love the game together. We do NOT miss a game on TV even if we have to DVR it and watch it when we get home. My girlfriends basically think I am a freak because it is playoff time and it is about all I can do is follow all of the teams and try to watch all of the games. They just don’t get it and I don’t have many girl friends to bond with regarding hockey, so I bond with my hockey twitter friends and my husband!! I have some guy friends from high school who love hockey and we like to have pre-game and mid-game discussions via the internet. That is fun now that I know so much about the game and can actually have intelligent discussions with others who know the game as well. Try to tell a non-hockey girlfriend that “Hossa got a 5 minute major for boarding and went into the box and then Kane tied up the game with a shorty with 13 seconds left sending them into OT, then 4 minutes into OT Hossa came out of the box, headed straight for the crease, took the feed from Sopel from the point and tapped it in for the GWG.” They would just look at me like I was speaking Chinese.

I hope this has helped you to understand how we hockey chicks think about hockey. I always say if I could just bring every girl (and many guys for that matter) to a hockey game to watch the sport live, so many more people would understand why hockey fans are so passionate about the sport. It is truly the most amazing and exciting sport in the world and there is nothing that can compare to a hockey player or a hockey fan!!! Our daughters already somewhat understand the way the game works and the “lingo” just from how much it is on TV in our house, and I am really excited to introduce them to the awesomeness that is live hockey next season so that they too can be cool little hockey chicks and grow to love the game as much as I do!!

Best of luck!
Lynette Perkins, 41, Chicago, Illinois

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About the Author: Working as a freelance sports writer and translator, Fred, 33, graduated from Laval University in Quebec City, earning a bachelor of translation in 2002. An avid fan of the Northeast division teams, he's also a long time fan of the Washington Capitals and the Montreal Canadiens. Fred also speaks fluently French and Spanish. http://twitter.com/FredPoulin98 www.traductions-quebec.com

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  1. I was hooked after my first game. Seriously! And I’d never liked professional sports of any kind, either. I hate football, and I can’t stand baseball. But hockey is so fast and it’s so exciting to watch, it just sucked me right in.

    I became a Nashville Predators season ticket holder right away. And you know what? I noticed immediately that the folks going NUTS around me in the stands were all women!

    I think the NHL does a lousy job of marketing to women, but we’re the ones who decide where the family money is going to be spent, so I’m glad to see a blog post such as this one giving us a little credit!

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