By Jennie Archer
My parents had me in skates from the moment that I could walk. I can remember clumsily walking across the rubber matting onto the ice in my hand-me-down equipment and oversized jersey.
Before long, hockey became my family’s lifestyle, and the rink became our second home. Countless hours were spent on the road, traveling to practices, games and tournaments. It did not take long for my family to become experts in multitasking.
Between my brother and me, my parents had to juggle two different practice and game schedules. This was no easy feat, but somehow they always made it work. On the way to a typical practice, I would do my homework and eat a pre-made dinner in the back seat of the car. As I think back on these moments, I have realized how much hockey has shaped my life.
After graduating from high school, the prospect of never being able to lace up my skates again was daunting. However, it was important to me to attend a college that would allow me to pursue my dreams outside of hockey. Fortunately, I found the right fit at Union.
Yet, Union did not provide me with the opportunity to play competitive club hockey. I knew that if I did not play, then I would lose an important part myself. I would lack the pride, strength, passion and belief that the sport gave me. It was important to me to start a women’s club team on campus.
Luckily, there were other like-minded students on campus and I was able to team up with Tatum Yancey ’16 to begin the process of creating a team. Tatum enthusiastically spearheaded the process and, in the fall of 2012, we had six players and a practice every other week. As expected in any endeavor, the beginning was not easy.
To pay for ice time, each player had to pay out of pocket. During this time, Tatum and I served as leaders, teammates and coaches. Eventually, as the team grew, things began to fall into place. The fall of 2013 brought us 10 players and one practice each week. However, we still had to pay out of our own pockets for practices and tournaments.
Good news came in the fall of 2014, when our team was granted a budget of $20,000 and expanded to include 21 players, a full practice and game schedule and a coach.
The process took two years and countless hours in the Student Activities Office, but in the end, it was all worth it. Going into this process, I had some concerns about how the club would be accepted by the campus community.
Like many young girls, I was the only girl on an all-boys’ team for 10 years. For a majority of this time, I was just another respected member of the team. But as I grew older, I began to notice the prejudice that surrounded women’s sports, which did not exist throughout my time in the youth system. The stereotypes that surrounded women’s hockey became all too familiar at the prep-school level, and this discouraged me.
I am a girl and, just like any other player, I believe that hockey is not about winning or losing. I know what it is like to win and how it feels to lose. I know what anger feels like, what it is like to be second best, how it feels to choke under pressure. So what makes us so different?
Although this question remains in my mind today, I am proud to say that through the process of creating a women’s club hockey team on campus, Tatum and I faced little prejudice from the Union community. We were welcomed with open arms by students and faculty alike, and I hope that the team will continue to grow with this sustained support.