Hockey is for everyone, or IS IT?

Here we go again. It’s 2017 and yet here I am re-living a nightmare from last season and no I don’t mean the Vancouver Canucks. No, I mean being a hockey fan who happens to be a girl. This whole being a hockey fan that also happens to be a girl is not always a fun journey.

Let’s be honest, there’s often a whole different set of rules and beliefs when it comes to girls who love hockey. If you are a guy and say you love hockey, you are in the club. If you are a girl, you have to constantly prove your fandom and knowledge of the game. If we know the game, then we must have heard it somewhere else, we couldn’t possibly have learned it on our own. If we don’t know something it’s because it’s yet another reason of why girls can’t know this game properly or love it. Or there’s the notion that we merely watch the game to check out the players or love the jersey colours/designs.

OR there’s reality that is often overlooked in which we women can actually LOVE the game itself just as much as any man. It’s no secret that I love the game and everything about it from the good to the bad and everything in between. Heck, I write a blog about hockey. I don’t claim to be an expert on all facets of the game and I love learning NEW things about this crazy game all the time.

This season, my sister and I were ecstatic to be able to up our support from quarter season members to half-season members for this season. Twice as many times to support our team? To say we were excited is an understatement. We also moved from the lower bowl to the upper bowl which up until our most recent game had been an impeccable experience. I love the experience of being in the arena from the quiet preparation before the chaos, to the warmups, to the anthems, to puck drop and the end to end plays on the ice to the final buzzer.

Yes, we are girls, and yes we love hockey but that does NOT mean that we deserve to be treated as though we can’t possibly understand the game or be talked down to or attacked for our jersey of choice to support our team. And many thanks for the ever subtle reminders that we were at a hockey game but I think our jerseys & being decked out from head to toe in our team’s colours made it abundantly clear we were in the right place. And yet while in that right place, my most favourite place, there was pit in my stomach acknowledging that we were not welcome on this night. At final buzzer, my disappointment was not from the scoreboard but from the sheer shock of how some fans turned a place that is a safe place into one that was unwelcoming.

And once again, that was beyond unsettling. We were made to feel as though we could not cheer for our team and also were judged for every ounce of support that we did show or vocalize. I’m all for opposition fans supporting their own team BUT I draw the line at attacking the integrity of franchise players, and then turning those insults towards fans of the home team. I can fully accept that we may root for different teams and I respect that. I may not agree with their view all the time, but I respect it and would never spend the duration of the game berating the fans of another team.

For the most part, I love talking about the game with Canucks fans and fans of any team, man or woman, any time. What I do not enjoy, is being talked down to and belittled. And yes, it is unfortunately still true that sometimes when I admit how much I love this game that I get given looks of derision that I cannot possibly comprehend what it is I am talking about. When it is confirmed that I do know the sport, these individuals then treat me as though they still don’t trust me even if what I am saying is true and attack my loyalty to my team or why I love this game. Truthfully these experiences leave me feeling as though perhaps I do not deserve to enjoy this incredible sport and then I remember that these individuals who make female fans feel this unwelcome DO NOT represent the entirety of the hockey community.

So, while you belittled us and attacked our love of the game, you did not destroy it. You tried and while yes it took me aback, nothing that was said to us or directed to us will take away my love for this team or this game. We should all be allowed to enjoy the game we love without having to feel as though we are being judged or to feel bad when we do. Hockey is more than just a game, it is a community that most of the time is very welcoming and hopefully one day, no one will be made to feel like an outsider.  I’ve said a lot in the last year but, it’s 2017 and I sincerely wish that the sentiment that “hockey is for everyone” was actually true. One day, maybe.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

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Dear Vancouver Canucks

Dear Vancouver Canucks,

I know the odds of you reading this blog among all the media available to you is slim to none but I felt it important to get these words out and that maybe you get a chance to see them.

You may not know this yet as the media is constantly stating all of the negatives and questioning whether or not the fans still support you, but yes it is true that you do in fact still have fan support. Win or lose, some fans will even stand by you all season long, no what matter the outcome.

This season, the majority of headlines that I have seen from local media have been of the negative variety and been attempting to tell me that there is nothing to be excited about as a fan of this team. Maybe to them it is not exciting to get glimpses of the future as prospects get the opportunity to shine or seeing veteran players reach franchise and individual milestones.To this fan, those moments along the journey of a season are almost more magical than the wins or losses.

Are there questions that need to be addressed? Yes, but that can be said about every single team in the league. Will there be critics of every trade, signing, draft pick and decision made? Probably. Will any of those questions, decisions or critics influence or when I will support you? No, not even one little bit.

Has this season been perfect? No, but truthfully, I never expected it to be. Do I wish that you had more wins overall up to this point of the season? Yes, but even if you had only won a single game on the season, my support would not waver. Every season is made up of different ebbs and flows. Some years will be better than others, but no matter the outcome, playoffs or no playoffs, this fan will stand by you.

Do I dream that one day you will win that elusive 16th playoff game? Absolutely more than anything and one day when you DO, I will be able to say I was along for the entire ride, for all the triumphs and struggles that lead to the eventual victory. Yes, I know that day may be in the distant future, but that won’t stop me from enjoying the journey to that eventual win.

Perhaps even more meaningful than any on ice statistic is the work that you do as a team within the community and on the behalf of kids across BC. No matter what every season brings on the ice, as a team you always give your all off the ice to the kids and this province. It is an incredible privilege to see the difference that you have made over the years in the lives of so many, and often you may not even know it.

Some might think it odd that through it Maybe you will see this post, and maybe you won’t but I hope that you know that despite what a lot of the media will tell, you DO have fans that support you 24/7/365.

All the best the rest of the way, this season!

Sincerely,

Sarah

To Whom It May Concern…

To whom it may concern,

Recently when I was attending a Vancouver Canucks game I had an experience that both frustrated and slightly rattled me as a hockey fan that happens to be a female.

Apparently I needed to be informed that I was at a hockey game and be told when and how to cheer for MY team by an opposing team’s fan. Yep, because apparently being at the game with my sister geared out in our Canucks gear meant we had no clue where we were or how to cheer for OUR team. Apparently being a female fan to this particular individual meant that we had no idea about the ins and outs of the game. The presumption being that we were only there to look at the players on the ice. Instead of being allowed to enjoy the game, it felt like I was being judged the entire time for everything I said or did for the duration of the game.

1617game2Yes it is true that I am a woman and I was at a hockey game. Yes, it is true that I am a woman and enjoy sports, especially hockey. Yes, it is true that I actually do know a little about the game and do not need the game explained to me. And while I do love learning new things about the game that does not mean I need a person to “dumb it down” or talk to me in condescending tones about the game. The truth is I have been a fan of this game since I was 17 and have spent a long time learning as much about it as possible about not just my team but the other 29 teams in the NHL, and minor leagues too. Truthfully, I love talking about the game at every level with other fans, truly I do. What I do not enjoy is being talked down to and belittled.

And yes, it is true that sometimes when I admit how much I love this game that I get given looks of derision that I cannot possibly comprehend what it is I am talking about. When it is confirmed that I do know the sport, these individuals then treat me as though they still don’t trust me even if what I am saying is true and attack my loyalty to my team or why I love this game. Truthfully these experiences leave me feeling as though perhaps I do not deserve to enjoy this incredible sport and then I remember that these individuals who make female fans feel this unwelcome DO NOT represent the entirety of the hockey community.

And to those of you who have had similar experiences, I want you to know that you are not alone. Perhaps it has also happened more then once to you but let’s not allow these moments to take away the game we love from us. We should all be allowed to enjoy the game we love without having to feel as though we are being judged or to feel bad when we do. Hockey is more than just a game, it is a community that most of the time is very welcoming and hopefully one day some will no longer judge others.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

 

According to who?

According to who? The experts and media have all recently come out with their NHL predictions for the 2016-17 regular season. Nearly all of them have the Vancouver Canucks projected to be at or very near the bottom of the rankings. Is that a surprise? No, not in the least but what does surprise me is the so-called experts telling me that as a Canucks fan, I have nothing to be excited about aside from “at this point with no games played, they are undefeated”. Really? That’s the ONLY thing for me to be excited about for the 2016-17 NHL season?

Yes they might be right that the Vancouver Canucks might miss the playoffs, they might even end up being at the bottom of the standings. Perhaps a lot of their success this season will indeed hinge on many things going exactly right and for injuries not the stockpile. They may just get all of their predictions correct or maybe the team will surprise the league in a few categories or maybe they will be just above par. Time and how the team plays will tell just which outcome will be true at season’s end.

There is one thing for certain that the media is very wrong about: that fans have nothing to be excited about. The 82-game journey might be messy, it might be disaster, it might have incredible triumphs or heartbreak, it might be be extended into the post-season or it might be cut short for a myriad of reasons, but no matter where or how the season ends, I will enjoy every single step of the journey.

The season may be messy and imperfect but there will also be moments of pure magic along the way. I love everything about this game and I plan on supporting my team every single step of the way regardless of whether this season ends abruptly or they make the post-season.

And most certainly no matter the outcome, I am Vancouver Canucks fan today, will be one tomorrow, will be one at the season’s end and for all the season’s still to come. 24/7/365 and there is no changing my Canuck heart.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

VK Basketball

Today, we talk about basketball, yes basketball. Specifically we are looking deeper into the incredible work that is the non-profit organization: VK Basketball. What exactly is the VK Basketball program? They work to create accessible basketball programs to kids and young athletes at no cost, and are looking to expand their program. It is admirable to see an organization put the dreams and needs of children first.

Let me share a glimpse into their incredible work:

In their own words: “We have created VK Basketball, a not-for-profit organization that provides athletes with an opportunity to play basketball during the spring and summer. Our mission is to give back to the community through accessible programs while creating a culture of excellence executed through basketball.

Our programs started in March of 2016 and in our first year we had 56 athletes from the Greater Vancouver area. We decided to start our program with girls varying in age from ages 10-17, but we hope to include a boys program in the near future. Our athletes attended camps and tournaments in BC, Washington, Oregon, and California.”

Wouldn’t it be amazing if both girls and boys across BC and beyond had access to this program or more programs like it? Programs like this that work to help both the child succeed and put no extra financial stress on the parents, are incredibly special. Kids should not have to worry about the cost but rather actually enjoy being a part of a team and programs like this one. In order for programs like this one to succeed, they need the help of the public

You can help with their aim at expanding their program to reach even more kids heading into this new year. Click the link below to find out how you can help them reach more kids and have a chance to win a one of a kind Vancouver Canucks experience on the road!

VK Basketball Auction

** The auction goes through October 7th. Signing up for the auction does not obligate you in any way, but by signing up you will be helping great cause in VK Basketball while also helping kids be healthy and have fun in safe environment.

IF you win the auction, you win the following Road Game Experience:

Two (2) Lower Bowl Tickets to the Calgary Flames vs. Vancouver Canucks game — Saturday, January 7th @ the Scotiabank Saddledome.

Flight From Vancouver to Calgary for Two (2).

Dinner in the Chrysler Club.

Two (2) jerseys (choice of Flames or Canucks jerseys).

Morning skate viewing (subject to discretion by either team).

Hotel stay for one (1) night at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel.

Click the links below to see the work they do in action:

VKB North Shore News story.

U13 Video

U17 Video

Please take a few minutes to visit their website (vkbasketball.com) and/or follow their journey on twitter (@VKBasketball). Thank-you, VK Basketball for the work you are doing with youth throughout the province! Here’s to growing your program and many more years of success!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L

Raise-A-Reader 2015 Edition

IMG_1395The tradition continues! September 23rd marked one of my favourite days leading up to the Vancouver Canucks regular season: Raise-A-Reader. The event takes place downtown in Vancouver and various places across BC sees local athletes, mascots, and television personalities selling special copies of the Vancouver Sun to raise funds for literacy programs. The event’s purpose can be properly summed up on the Raise-A-Reader website as the following: “The Postmedia Raise-a-Reader campaign exists to empower today’s children and families with tools to improve their reading skills. These skills are the foundation for lifelong learning that significantly affects the quality of life and the health and social economic well-being of individuals, families and communities. 100% of all funds raised will go to the literacy community.”

The campaign as usual, went from 7:00AM-9:00AM. There were representatives from the Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Giants, Vancouver Stealth, Global News, the Vancouver Sun and many more volunteers. There’s no pressure or negativity or critics, just some incredible people from all different backgrounds coming together for a common cause. A morning where you simply make a donation to help grow the love of reading AND you get to talk one-on-one about hockey with some of your favourite hockey players, is perfection.

Here are some of mine and my sisters’ snapshots from the day:

We had a SVENtastic time meeting Sven Baertschi to start off our Raise-A-Reader day! We all agreed that the Canucks and Vancouver are both equally awesome.

IMG_1381Welcome officially to the Vancouver Canucks, Jacob Markstrom! Thank-you for the great hockey discussion and helping to make our morning epic.

IMG_1379 IMG_1387 IMG_1396Quite a few Canucks alumni were out and about volunteering for the day:

First up: Stan Smyl and Jyrki Lumme. It was an absolute pleasure to be able to talk about hockey and a shared love of literacy for all with these two gentlemen.

IMG_1397 IMG_1389 IMG_1382Darcy Rota was out volunteering and taking time with every fan that crossed his path.

IMG_1390 IMG_1383Captain Kirk was a class act as always.

IMG_1391 IMG_1384Another familiar face was out volunteering and being swarmed by the fans who were anxious to discuss hockey and relive some memorable “Captain Canuck” moments. Yes, that’s right, Trevor Linden was also out volunteering and meeting the masses.

IMG_1393IMG_1386And of course, no Canucks outing is complete WITHOUT a visit with Fin.

IMG_1392 IMG_1376And I could not leave the other mascots out of all the fun:

The Whitecaps very own Spike stole FIN’s move…not too sure how my favourite Orca would feel about this…

IMG_1377Vancouver Stealth’s, Bomber the FOX

IMG_1385and the Vancouver Giants, JACK the Giant was on location:

IMG_1378

Raise-A-Reader 2015 was a success as funds were raised to help literacy programs, smiles were endless and all in all, another priceless experience.

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.

Raise-A-Reader 2014 Edition

RaiseAReader2013Every year the Vancouver Canucks participate in Postmedia’s Raise-A-Reader campaign that takes place across Canada. This year was no exception and they were out bright and early, and with Vancouver Canucks players downtown, it is a HUGE draw for fans of the team. It has become a start of the season tradition for my sisters and I to attend every year!

The main reason for this event can be summed up perfectly from the Raise-A-Reader website as the following: “The Postmedia Raise-a-Reader campaign exists to empower today’s children and families with tools to improve their reading skills. These skills are the foundation for lifelong learning that significantly affects the quality of life and the health and social economic well-being of individuals, families and communities. 100% of all funds raised will go to the literacy community.”

The campaign went from 7:00AM-9:00AM. There were representatives from the Vancouver Canucks, Vancouver Whitecaps, Vancouver Giants, B.C. Lions, Global News, and of course the Vancouver Sun. You can guess who, I went downtown to see, right? Is it even a question?!

First, we met some of the Vancouver Giants players braving the early rainfall:

IMG_0928Next, bring on the nostalgia and Vancouver Canucks!

After missing out on the opportunity to have our picture taken during the 2014 Canucks Telethon, I finally had my chance to fix that when Captain Kirk was also at Raise-A-Reader:

IMG_0926We also got to meet Mr.President himself, Trevor Linden. Thanks for talking hockey with me this morning, and giving me an incredible memory!

Trevor & me:

IMG_0925Abs & Linden:

AbsLindenLast, but certainly not least, Kevin Bieksa who is just as comical and KIND in real life as he is in post-game interviews.

Kevin & me:

IMG_0927Abs & Kevin:

AbsBieksaThat’s how we spent our Wednesday morning…meeting some of our favourite players, talking hockey and supporting an incredible cause to bring back the importance of literacy! Hockey and reading are two of my most favourite things, so it was fantastic to be able to combine those today! While it was incredible to meet some amazing people today, it is important to remember the importance of the day was not about the pomp and circumstance of meeting the celebrities, but rather about the children and helping to ensure that they will know the magic of imagination that comes to life through reading. If you can, please join the campaign to raise awareness of the importance of literacy!

As always, until next time, nuck said.

Sarah E.L.