Women's hockey starts a league

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 2/07/01.

Hockey team Their ages range from 27 to 60, almost as large as gap as their ability levels. Most skated as kids. Most have kids who now play competitive hockey.

One - organizer Sheila Gemar of New London - even played a year of competitive hockey Another hasn't skated much at all.

These women like to get a few laughs in while they exercise. They desperately want a goalie to joing their group.

Now, every Wednesday night this group of a dozen women takes to the ice at the Koronis Civic Arena in Paynesville Township and practices and plays hockey for an hour.

Kathy Ziegler of Paynesville has started to play at the age of 60. Her prior experience, she says with a chuckle, "is watching my kids skate."

"Why, at your age, are you playing hockey?" Ziegler's 95-year-old mother asked her the other day.

"Cause I can," Ziegler answered.

"Well, that's good then," her mother replied.

The women are working hard to master the skills of hockey - and to grasp the finer rules of the game. "It took me three years to figure out the object of the game," says one hockey mother.

They aren't letting anything trivial stand in their way of having a good time and sharing a few laughs. "On my feet, that's my position," jokes Lynnette Lyndham.

The league started only three weeks ago, to which Margot Sykora quickly quips, "Does it show?"

The late start was because Gemar had to twist arms and corral the others to join. "I bugged everybody to death," she admits. The players come from Atwater, New London, Paynesville, and Richmond.

They spend half an hour doing drills and working on their individual skills. Things like stopping, which some newcomers aren't really too concerned with anyway because the rink has boards and they wear pads.

The other half an hour is spent scrimmaging, with nearly as much defense as the NHL All Star Game. At least these women have a good excuse for their high-scoring affairs ...they have yet to recruit a goalie to their ranks.

Seriously, they want to increase their numbers, get enough players to make two or three teams, and have at least one goalie. Anyone joining the league will only have to pay a prorated share of their bill for ice time.

"I think if more women played they would just love it," said Gemar. "If they would have had (hockey for girls) when I was a kid, I would have been a maniac."

The women say their ice time - between 9 and 10 p.m. - is perfect for moms because it's religion night with no out-of-town sports to follow. And either the kids are in bed, or dad can see to it that they get there.

A highlight of the season will be when they challenge the girls' 12 and under team. Ann Anderson of New London will get a chance to play against her daughter, Megan, in that game. The women said a date hadn't been set, but they might just be avoiding a large audience.

"We're dead meat," explained Gemar, "but it will be fun."

The women plan to get even with their kids by having buttons made of themselves in their hockey outfits and giving them to their kids to wear.

Hockey, they find, "is better than aerobics," said Marsha Meed of Paynesville.

Hockey mothers have also learned to be a little more generous to their kids when it's the youngsters turn to play. Stopping and turning, it turns out, aren't as easy to do as it looks from the stands. "It makes you think twice about yelling at your kids," explained Meed.

The women have no grand plans, except to improve, have fun, and maybe find a green team from another town to challenge in a game.

One thing they all hope will happen soon is that someone will find a way to get the stink out of hockey pads. "With all the women playing hockey, we're going to figure out a way to wash pads," promised Ziegler.

But Anderson, an experienced hockey mom, says it has been done and doesn't help much.

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