Break­ing the ice

Women’s hockey league Skate Sis­ter a hit with the forty-some­thing North Toronto set

North Toronto Post - - News -

Sev­eral years ago, the North Toronto Memo­rial Arena was in the hot seat for not pro­vid­ing enough ice time for girls’ hockey.

The girls’ league at Lea­side arena was grow­ing and needed more time. Since the North Toronto arena was fully uti­lized dur­ing prime time, it was chal­leng­ing to meet all the com­pet­ing needs.

The is­sue was frus­trat­ing and high­lighted the lack of in­fra­struc­ture within the city to sup­port new and emerg­ing ice sports. The re­sult was a new city­wide pol­icy for ice al­lo­ca­tion and a new sec­ond ice pad at Lea­side Memo­rial Arena.

Al­though the ice al­lo­ca­tion is­sue was solved, the North Toronto arena con­tin­ued look­ing for ways to meet de­mand and use the ice dur­ing non-peak times.

In the process of look­ing for new ways to use the ice, the term “hockey mom” took on a new mean­ing. No longer con­tent to shuf­fle kids to prac­tice and cheer them on in the stands, a group of moms launched their own league called Skate Sis­ter Hockey.

The league was started by Liz O’Brien. The self-pro­claimed stay-at-home mother of four had time dur­ing the day and was look­ing for some ca­ma­raderie and ex­er­cise.

She was very fa­mil­iar with the North Toronto rink as all her chil­dren are hockey play­ers. Her sons play through­out the city and her daugh­ter plays at Lea­side.

Al­though there are women’s leagues across the city, the teams are com­pet­i­tive and not al­ways ac­ces­si­ble to those who have lit­tle or no ex­pe­ri­ence play­ing hockey.

Skate Sis­ter is open to any­one who wants to have fun and play four-on-four hockey dur­ing the day. There is no re­quire­ment to know any­thing about hockey, but know­ing how to skate is an as­set.

The ice is avail­able be­cause it is not prime time and is per­fect for any­one who has time dur­ing the day.

It has be­come so suc­cess­ful that other are­nas such as the Larry Gross­man For­est Hill Arena are al­lo­cat­ing ice time to Skate Sis­ter.

The long­time play­ers on the league range from for­mer fig­ure skaters to 40-some­thing moms who have never worn skates. One mom said she looked like Bambi when she first went out on the ice, but now she is a keen player and loves the game.

Th­ese in­cred­i­ble women have even sent teams to Ice­land and Las Vegas to rep­re­sent Canada in tour­na­ments. The Skate Sis­ter Hockey league is a great ex­am­ple of en­ter­pris­ing women us­ing their time and skills to get in shape and make new friends. And you don’t need to be a hockey mom to play.

The ladies of Skate Sis­ter check­ing out the ac­tion at a North Toronto rink

KAREN STINTZ Karen Stintz is a for­mer city coun­cil­lor, elected in 2003, and was a chair of the TTC. She lives in Ward 16 with her fam­ily.

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