Ana Peasgood is a busy hockey mom. Between practices and games for Emma, 13, Robert, 10, and Ryan, 7, Peasgood spends a lot of time in the stands at the Chetwynd (B.C.) District Recreation Centre.
“Sitting there watching them, it just looks like so much fun,” she says.
She got a small taste of what her kids love so much with her first end-of-year parents-kids game last season.
“I had avoided it for five years, going I can’t do it,” she says, before laughing, “but it was so much fun. And we were so bad.”
Between cheering on their kids’ goals, passing around the hot chocolate and laughing at how easy the little ones make it look, Peasgood, a non-profit coordinator at the Chetwynd Public Library, and the other moms often talked about how great it would be if they were the ones on the ice.
“We always do this – by the end of the season we talk about getting out there with our own team, but the idea dies,” she says. “This time Lucy didn’t let it die.”
That would be Lucy Redfearn, vice-president of the Chetwynd and District Minor Hockey Association (CDMHA) and mom to Liam, 16, and Fynn, 7.
Redfearn had played the end-of-season game for years, and despite being an experienced speed skater could appreciate the effort her kids’ had to put in. “It’s hard to skate and slap a puck with a stick and not fall down.” Motivated partly by a desire to better understand what her kids do and simply to get some exercise, Redfearn started a Facebook group – “Interested in shinny to get skinny” – booked some ice time and set up a table at registration night at the rec centre.
Eighteen women signed up, and even more sought out Redfearn at the public library, where she’s set up as an ESL coordinator.
Twenty-seven women – including teachers, accountants, stay-at-home moms, an RCMP officer and an esthetician – showed up for the team’s first practice. Some were as young as 19; others in their late 40s. A few had played hockey before and were looking for a place to play, but most would be putting on equipment for the first time.
After digging through their kids’ hand-me-downs, raiding their husbands’ closets, visiting some thrift stores and buying new when needed, the women gathered enough gear to make a go of it the first night.
“We were a hodge-podge,” says Redfearn. “We were tossing things back and forth.” One person’s extra shin pad traded for another’s extra glove. Along one bench a daughter sat on her mom’s legs tying her skates for her.
Once on the ice, music blaring from the sound system, the team divided into three groups and started in on the same drills their kids do: skate to the blue line and back; to the red line and back; and, of course, fall down and get yourself back up.
The team elected their leader to go first on that one. “I didn’t realize how slippery the knee pads are,” says Redfearn. “I ended up with my mask almost on the ice and my leg in the air. (The other women) were just killing themselves laughing.”
As the hour wound down a noticeable crowd had gathered. The team’s request for a closed practice denied, the rec centre staff had joined the daughters who had stuck around after their own practice to watch. “(Emma) snuck in her Hockey Canada bell and was cheering us on during the scrimmage,” says Peasgood.
Her three kids initially thought she was joking when she told them she was joining a team. (Four years ago they got Mom skates for Christmas; “I took them out three times and I was just really discouraged.”) While her sons quickly got excited about the idea, her daughter needed more time to be convinced. It took one practice.
“When we were driving home she actually said she was proud of me,” says Peasgood, her voice breaking. “You don’t get that from a teenager very often.”
“It’s really good for kids to see that we can go out there and do it, too,” adds Redfearn. “Parents sit in the stands and cheer, but when you get on the ice and your kids see you participating it gives what you’re saying more leverage.”
Redfearn serves as an assistant coach for her younger son’s Novice team, a detail that momentarily escaped one of his teammates, who couldn’t understand why she was going to be on the ice at his next practice when she’s supposed to play on his mom’s team.
By the team’s second week, it was still without a name, but it had one player volunteering to be a goalie and the rec centre’s figure skating/power skating coach offering her services as a guest instructor. By the end of the season, the hope is the team will be ready for a tournament.
For now, the goal is simple: “Just get out there and have some fun for us,” says Peasgood. “It’s probably the only selfish hour that I take out of the week.”
An actual hockey goal would be nice, too, “I want one awesome goal that I can go that was amazing,” says Peasgood. “Even if it’s a dirty goal from the corner I’ll still take it.”
Enough excitement built early on that Redfearn started booking more than the one hour a week of ice time the team initially reserved. A few weeks later the women played their first game – a 10-8 win over the CDMHA girls’ team that saw some of the moms facing off against their daughters – and they now have a full-time coach.
“I’m really thinking that we’ve started something that’s going to last not just this season but for a while,” says Peasgood. “I’m excited to be part of that."