By Tara Fuller
For Reporter Newspapers
Ice hockey has become a central part of life for 33-year-old graphic designer and Issaquah resident Bree Carey.
After playing roller hockey in college, Carey said she “wanted to see what ice hockey was all about.”
“I called Kingsgate Ice Arena, and they gave me the contact information for the Seattle Women’s Hockey Club,” she said. She and her friend have now been playing with SWHC for 10 years.
Carey, whose husband also is a hockey player and has coached for SWHC, said her husband is very supportive of her “and all the women playing hockey.” And that’s good, because ice hockey seems to be very contagious.
“My sister started playing about five years ago,” she said.
Carey noted that her parents, siblings, grandma, aunt, uncle, cousins and in-laws have all come to watch games over the years — and support the hockey club’s annual fund-raiser.
Joan Morgan, 48, a lawyer from West Seattle and SWHC board member, said the group holds a fundraiser each year in February to help supplement any rising ice costs “so we don’t have to keep raising dues.”
SWHC is a nonprofit organization that encourages women 18 and older — with or without skating experience — to give ice hockey a try.
In a 2005 essay contest for USA Hockey Magazine, Morgan wrote that she had decided to give ice hockey a try after losing more than 80 pounds and establishing an exercise routine.
“I just wanted some kind of sport that would keep me occupied for a long time,” she said. “All I knew is it was way out of my comfort zone. I had no clue what it was going to be like. I had negative ideas about what it was.”
Christine R. Hatcher of Seattle, a 34-year-old architect, is president of the club’s board. She said the focus of SWHC is to educate women about ice hockey.
“Our season involves coach-run practices as well as games and tournaments. Most other leagues in the area only offer the opportunity to play in games, which may be daunting for a woman with absolutely no experience,” she added.
Hatcher said a co-worker talked her into trying ice hockey.
“The first year she asked me if I wanted to come out and give hockey a try — I thought she was nuts!” Hatcher said and laughed. Hatcher said she asked her again the following year but she was still on the fence.
“The third year, I decided ‘OK, I’ll try it.’ So I went out … and I had a blast!”
Hatcher said that SWHC teams range anywhere from newbie to seasoned skater. She said she had very little skating experience before joining SWHC.
Morgan said the club shouldn’t be thought of as a Seattle Women’s Hockey Team. There aren’t tryouts or maximum number of players. She said there are always the same core players year after year, but new people join and team members are always shuffled into new and more balanced teams.
“Women of any experience level who want to play hockey join without having to pass any skill or physical fitness tests,”
Bothell resident Elizabeth Stall, 29, mother of two small children and longtime hockey player, said SWHC “is the friendliest league I’ve ever played with.” She encourages women of all ages and occupations give it a try.
“It’s just really fun — even if you’re not the typical tough hockey cliché type of person. I’m actually pretty shy and quiet myself but the people are very friendly — it doesn’t matter if you’re brand new, everyone is very supportive — we’re a very diverse group of women,” she said.
Tara Fuller is a student in the University of Washington Department of Communication News Laboratory.
For questions regarding SWHC, call Joan Morgan at (206) 839-4704 or e-mail email@example.com. SWHC offers one free practice in which you can skate with a team. The opening season meeting for SWHC will be at 8 p.m., Monday, Aug. 25 at Olympic View Arena in Mountlake Terrace. The 2008-09 hockey season runs from September through March. Full club membership costs $650 and includes all full-club practices and team practices; all home and away game ice and all tournament registration fees. Practice-only membership is half the price of full membership and includes any three practice sessions every two weeks. Practice members may play in a game for $15 and $35 per tournament as bench space permits. A goalie membership costs about $50 and, except for voting privileges, it offers all the same perks as does a full-club membership. In addition to membership dues, there is a non-refundable SWHC registration fee of $75.