Boys: Do you know where your mom is?
By Lois Kalchman
Try the local rink where she may be in full hockey gear
Linda Deshman calls herself a new kind of hockey mom – the kind who leaves her daughter to babysit and heads to the rink for her own game.
“Is this hockey the last great secret you guys are keeping from us women?” asks Deshman, 49, a novice to the hockey scene.
“For the men it becomes so serious and competitive, they lose the fun. The fact we (women) are learning the game is fantastic”.
“I am from California,” explains Deshman, a widow with three children who became hooked on hockey while watching her son, Jonathan, playing at Bill Bolton Arena.
“The lure of skating round and round a rink I always thought was boring, but when you put a puck into the equation it transforms it. The fact you cannot skate is incidental.”
“It is a game that is terribly exciting,” she says. “You can play with abandon even with all the equipment on. I am a hockey convert.”
Like Deshman, Miriam Garfinkle got tired of being just the mom in the stands. She instigated the uprising from fan to player at her son’s house league championship team party.
Garfinkle, 43, found other women were interested in learning to play hockey. She needed 15 players to pay for the ice, but admits to shamelessly recruiting neighbourhood women and even her patients, ending up with 30.
By spring they wanted to learn more and asked Dave McMaster, coach of the Mighty Chicks house league team for girls under 12, to set up an eight-week skills session.
Little did they know, McMaster, 57, the vice-principal at Royal St. George’s College Junior School, coached the Canadian women’s hockey team to its first world gold medal (1990) and the Lady Blues for 20 years at University of Toronto when they won 12 CIAU championships.
“I am having the most fun,” McMaster says. “Their progress is terrific.”
Garfinkle expands on it all.
“This hockey thing is new to me,” Garfinkle says. “That first game last fall we had no equipment and used a soft puck and quickly realized it did not feel like (hockey). Then we wanted the hard puck and started to wear equipment.
“It is also neat for our kids to see us learning a new skill at our age.”
Margaret Hathaway, 51, an illustrator with Reactor Art and Design whose 10-year-old son Jan plays at Bill Bolton Arena, says a year ago none of the 34 women in McMaster's group pictured themselves playing hockey. She bought her first pair of hockey skates last fall.
“It has added another dimension to an already interesting life,” says Hathaway. “On television all you see is hockey as a contact sport. We see the joy of skating and that is a big factor. It is wonderful. I love the speed and find it interesting to go that fast.”
Hathaway was surprised it didn’t hurt when you fell down.
“Some of us started out wearing our sons’ (or daughters’) equipment,” she said. "Then we upgraded to our own.
“Hockey is a low-impact sport. When I had trouble with my knees, the pamphlet the doctor gave me recommended skating.”
Not everyone is a mom in this diverse group of women.
Marcia McDonald, 27, played ringette as a youngster and is currently playing on a men’s pick-up hockey team. She wants to improve her skills.
“I play with a bunch of men and they have been pressuring me to improve my shooting skills,” she says. “I can race down the ice but I don’t know what to do when I get in front of the goalie. It is like a paralysis. I shoot like a girl.”
“Not for long,” McMaster promises.