On Saturday, the Air Canada Centre hosted the first ever Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) All-Star Game, and it was amazing (pictures below). The energy, the players, the crowd – all phenomenal. And this happened at the beginning: Best Face-Off Ever! Did you know that former Mississauga Mayor Hazel McCallion played professional women’s hockey in the late 1920s?
CWHL Commissioner Brenda Andress summed it up best about the All-Star Game: “Today’s game will showcase the skill, speed and finesse that makes women’s hockey the best entertainment on the planet. We are thrilled to see the stands filled with the next generation of CWHL players, aspiring Olympians, recreational players and fans who simply love this game”. Indeed – the event truly reflected this statement, and I could tell the CWHL was appealing to future players in particular. If women, girls and transgender athletes had more access to recreational and elite programs, could see their mentors on television and in-person, could earn a living off of playing professional sports, the future of sports would look very different. I eagerly await this shift in the way we treat women, girls and transgender athletes in all areas of sport.
In the meantime, I am planning a trip to see the Toronto Furies with friends sometime in the new year – can’t wait. For those of you interested in seeing what the CWHL is about, I suggest attending the Clarkson Cup in March 2015 as it will recognize the top women’s hockey team in the CWHL, and showcase all five CWHL teams in one grand tournament…fun.
The Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) is “the premier, professionally run women’s hockey league in the world. The CWHL is a centrally funded league meaning that all participating teams in the CWHL receive equal access to funding and are given the same opportunities to succeed. Every dollar goes towards building a league that is dedicated to raising the profile of women’s hockey while providing a place for the best female hockey players in the world to train and compete. Our players are the brightest and the fastest female hockey players in the world. Our game is based on speed, skill and finesse” (cwhl.ca/view/cwhl/about-us).
Founded in 2007, the CWHL currently has 5 teams that are active: Boston Blades, Brampton Thunder, Calgary Inferno, Montreal Stars, and Toronto Furies.
Right now, the NHL is getting so much attention you’d hardly think there was an alternative! And yet there is! You know how much a Season’s Pass is for the CWHL? $140, yowsa, that’s cheap. Single tickets are $15, what the f**k?! Puts into perspective the financial differences between leagues huh? Anywho, go see a game or two (schedule), support the league, watch some fantastic hockey, and perhaps buy some of their fancy merchandise.
Angela James is one of the all-time greatest hockey players of her generation. Born and raised in Toronto, James grew up playing hockey on ice and in the streets of Flemingdon Park during the 1960s and 1970s. She went on to play professionally in the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association women’s league and internationally for Team Canada during the 1980s and 1990s, and at that time, was one of the most versatile and physical players in the women’s game.
In Angela James: The First Superstar of Women’s Hockey, authors Tom Bartsiokas and Corey Long detail James’ journey through hockey. They chronicle her relationship with her siblings, her mom, and the community of which she grew up-in. Most notably, they detail how James had to negotiate and fight back against marginalization as she came from a working-class and mixed-race background. (As an adult, James was one of the only openly LGBTQ identified players in professional hockey).
One of the intentions behind my reading escapade series has been to read about notable and groundbreaking women and transgender athletes, as they remain far to invisible to the mainstream. Angela James: The First Superstar of Women’s Hockey is a fascinating book about the development of women’s hockey in Ontario, nationally, and internationally, James’ career, and the role she played in advancing the sport. The writing is simple and personable, and the content is insightful. The authors have a lot of reverence and respect for James, and it’s easy to understand why.