Author: Christina Libs

Year 9/50 playing hockey - in it for the long haul.

MGHA News: 2022 Preseason Signups Available

Hi y’all!

After two great new-to-MGHA player weeks of preseason, we’re ready to welcome ALL players to the ice for four weeks of fun. Below is a copy of the MGHA Schedule website page.

MOST IMPORTANT: On ice evaluations and off ice orientation sessions are REQUIRED for everyone this year. Please notice the difference in timeline for goalies (9/25) and skaters (10/2, make ups on 10/9). If you cannot attend, please contact a hockey ops or board member so we can capture your wonderful skills for team formation in another way.

Thanks for your warmth, welcoming and attention to preseason details!

Christina Libs, Web Secretary of the MGHA Board

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MGHA Schedule of Events

Sunday, September 25th

Clinics and REQUIRED Goalie Evaluations – sign up  here

NEW PLAYER SOCIAL: Friday, September 23rd – 6-9pm – Delta Beer Lab

We picked this time as it worked for the MOST new players, yet the invite is open for ALL members, fans and players to join and socialize together. You can bring your own food into Delta, buy a pizza, and support Delta as one of our sponsors. There is an outdoor patio and indoor games. Wear your MGHA gear and let’s welcome everyone to another season! Contact Nat Carlston or Christina Libs with any questions or suggestions for the time together.

Sunday, October 2nd

REQUIRED Skater Evaluations and Off-Ice Orientation – sign up here

Sunday, October 9th

Scrimmages, Make-up Skater Evaluation and Off-Ice Orientation – sign up here

Sunday, October 16th

Team Reveal Night Scrimmages – Sign up here

August MGHA News, Part 2

Can you feel the cool, crispy air on your cheeks? That’s the feeling of seasonal change, anticipatory sweat, and a sweet full body exhaustion after your first, second, and third games of hockey this fall.

It’s time for more MGHA news:

  1. League Expansion
    • We hit a milestone of recruiting 210 players for this year! Because we have enough people on our waitlist AND were able to add a later ice slot at Cap Ice, we’re happy to share that we will expand to 220-240 players this season. Each team will only have a couple late games, and we imagine captains may recruit subs more easily with a larger pool of skaters. Big numbers mean an even bigger thanks to our recruiting team, led by Amanda Thornton, to process all new applications and shepherd this year’s hockey crew onto the ice.
    • If you are willing to be a goalie this season and haven’t already registered as one, please contact goalies@lists.madisongayhockey.org so we can get y’all wrangled. Note that goalies only pay the $100 deposit, they do not pay full dues.
  2. COVID update for the locker room
    • When the Dane county community level is High, we expect players to wear masks in the locker rooms and the lobby area. While we will not enforce this recommendation operationally (i.e. reporting to leadership and messaging to individuals who do not mask), we will make disposable masks available in the lobby and captains can bring a box into their locker room throughout the season. We ask that where possible, you use your own reusable mask. We hope everyone can acknowledge and respect each others’ space, decisions and body autonomy, as we’ve practiced in the locker room space for years. We are not requiring masks on ice this year, and we will continue to use our Covid reporting protocol to communicate known positive cases using covid@madisongayhockey.org when our players are exposed during MGHA sanctioned events.
  3. USA Hockey registration in your Account page
    • The Website team has made a new USA Hockey # field in your /account page to remove the manual email effort – so going forward, you do NOT have to email the registrar your number. You will not be allowed on the ice until you have your USA Hockey # added for the season.
  4. What’s Next?
    1. Required – Add your play level preference on your Account. We will use this to balance levels and estimate team number and roster size going into evaluations. Play-with and -without requests will be collected later.
    2. We will add September orientation, preseason skills and scrimmages to the website so you can sign up. Sept 11th and 18th are focused on new-to-hockey and new-to-MGHA folks, then we will have ice time for all players as we lead into evaluations and team formation in mid-October.
    3. Reminder – complete the volunteer form if you have skills to share or recommendations for us.
    4. Reminder – Use the locker room listserv locker-room@lists.madisongayhockey.org for any informal updates about mentor/mentee skating at the UW Shell or other local rinks, LGBTQ+ events/news, etc.
    1. Extra credit – watch our videos on the Skills and Drills website page to refresh your brain on what’s coming soon during the preseason!

<3 Thanks and see you soon! <3

August MGHA News: 2022-2023 Season Registration

The first fall leaf hasn’t yet hit the ground, yet we have 165 people with a deposit in for the new season! We have flexibility to grow this year with the 3 level structure, but your quick action now helps us plan with time and sanity. New players should get their applications in ASAP, returners need to pay deposit and registration soon to secure a spot.

Here’s everything you need to know and do to get signed up to take the ice with the MGHA in our 15th season:

  1. Read this entire post, understand our COVID policy and new 3 levels of play
  2. Pay your $100 Deposit and $250 remaining Fees
  3. Register with USA Hockey and send your ID # to registrar@madisongayhockey.org *NOTE FOR NEW APPLICANTS: please only do this once you’ve heard from recruiting that we have your spot ready.
  4. Update your account with your preferred level of play
  5. Submit the volunteer / nomination form
  6. [optional] Aug 23 – Attend the gear swap to donate, swap, socialize, support new players
  7. [required] September – Attend preseason orientation before taking the ice
  8. Preview this season’s Schedule, sync it to your calendar

COVID-19

The MGHA follows Dane County guidelines and recommendations for COVID-19. As of August 2nd, 2022, Dane County is at a High Community level, which means masking indoors is recommended but not required. 

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/your-health/covid-by-county.html
“People may choose to mask at any time. People with symptoms, a positive test, or exposure to someone with COVID-19 should wear a mask. Masks are recommended in indoor public transportation settings and may be required in other places by local or state authorities.”


We want all MGHA players and fans to feel welcome and safe at hockey each Sunday, knowing that everyone is navigating community health data, making decisions about masks, and keeping up with variant news. If you need anything, contact the board member. This will remain to be a priority throughout the season.

About Play Levels

To make the league more inclusive, MGHA Members have opted to shift from a 2-level organization last year to a 3-level organization this year. To implement these changes, we are requiring preseason (off-ice) orientation for all levels, all players, to discuss expectations and hold space for comments and questions.

Level 1 “L1” is for beginners and low intermediate players. Expect to learn and practice basic ice skating, hockey rules and strategy at a slower pace. This level includes coaching and extra skills clinics throughout the season. Higher level players can play in this level and will have restrictions such as strict goal caps.

Level 2 “L2” is for intermediate players who are able to skate safely during faster play. Expect to use and develop skills with your team. This level may include coaching, at your captain’s discretion and coaches’ availability. Higher level players can play in this level and will be goal-capped.

Level 3 “L3” is for intermediate and advanced players looking for SAFE fast-paced competition. Expect to develop strategies with your team, learn how to safely challenge yourself and others, and absolutely NO show-boating or unnecessary contact. This level may include coaching, at your captain’s discretion and coaches’ availability.

We expect ALL levels to skate safely, in control of oneself, and intentionally inclusive of teammates and opponents – this is the MGHA Way – we know it’s more fun! Good competition is created when everyone skate within their own abilities, recognizes and respects others abilities, and creates space for skill development.

ACTION: Select your preferred level(s) for the 2022-2023 on your Account page.

Pay Fees

2022-2023 Fees are $350 total: $100 paid as a deposit, and $250 paid below to complete registration.

Financial Aid: Monthly payment plans and discounted fees are available each year, please reach out if you need any assistance whatsoever.

Volunteer to support this year

Recruiting, mentoring, clinics, evaluations, captains, coaches, fundraising, social events, sponsorships, gear, community skate, tournament, apparel – the list goes on. There’s so much we do each year, please submit this form to note your interest or nominate others to the various volunteer roles that keep the MGHA way alive and well!

ACTION: Complete the Volunteer Form ASAP

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That’s all for now, folks! Check back here for more #news as we gear up for the season.

-Libs and the Board

July News: Members vote to support three levels of play; Returning player deposits due by August 1st

July MGHA News

  1. 76% (37/49) of MGHA Members voted to support a move to three levels of play this year and implement a coaching program. A few notes…. if we do not recruit enough skaters to have teams for each level, then we will fall back to two levels as outlined in the proposal. We have assigned Board member Gabby Grandin to work closely with previous Commissioner Tim Tender to be this season’s co-Commissioners, responsible to implement operational hockey changes.
  2. Returning players: Pay your deposit by August 1st to secure your spot. We have many new recruits ready to join, and a number who already have deposits in. The sooner you commit, the easier it is for us to coordinate this season.

Next in August, we will make full payment / registration available, and ask you to note your preferred level(s). We will also send an interest / nomination form for the various roles and responsibilities for the season; i.e. coach, captain, social hockey operations, fundraising, recruiting, etc. You can always send us a note with your interest, a nomination, recommendation or feedback to board@madisongayhockey.org.

As we experience every year, it takes a village to do this. We appreciate all y’all do to keep us playing and growing as a community.

<3 2022-2023 Board-O’s <3 Avery, Gene, Christina, Bront, Laur, Nat, Gabby

#OverheardattheBoardMeeting “Ah the locker room. Pungent, but beautiful”

2022-2023 League Deposit Open

Hello Loves,

You can make a deposit of $100, same as last year, will secure you a spot with us next season. Click the link below to go to the payment page.

Please note, our members are currently voting on our league structure for next year – if the referendum passes, we will have three levels of play – if it doesn’t pass, we will continue with two levels of play. The vote results and further info will be shared in late July, when we will request your preferred level when paying for full dues. If the vote’s outcome doesn’t matter to you, we hope you will consider paying your deposit early!

Full Dues / Cost: Ice time is increasing $10/hour this season – once we know how many levels and skaters, will will announce the full dues cost. We expect a slight increase but will do all we can to keep costs transparent and accessible. As always, full dues are required to get onto the ice and financial aid will be available.

COVID: We will be following all USA Hockey Player Safety and Capitol Ice Arena guidelines for COVID at minimum, and may add more safety requirements. Currently, for summer scrimmages masks are optional on ice and required off ice in common spaces like the locker room.

MGHA Calendar: Check it / sync it for all important dates, social events, etc. – you can submit an event by contacting us or email the locker room listserv to promote it and request someone add it for you.

Thanks for reading, stay strong — <3 MGHA Board

Breanne Cyr – What Gay Hockey Means to Me Essay – 2021-2022

My story is long, but it’s been a long and winding road. (Or perhaps a wet and slushy ice rink?!) This, my
friends, is my journey to playing gay hockey and how it has helped me with “becoming a human again”
as I like to say. Not that I was ever actually not human, but you don’t always feel human when you don’t
feel like you fit in society, and you can’t trust your own body. Let me explain…

Period 1: Old and Gay
Once upon a time, back when I was 10 years old, I decided I wanted to play hockey. However, the
options for joining a team were limited. As a girl, I could join the girls’ team along with the girls who’d
been skating since they could walk (umm…yikes!), or I could join a lower level “co-ed” team of all boys.
Great, as a sensitive pre-teen girl, joining a team of boys sounded like a recipe for disaster and was most
definitely out of the question. Thus, I concluded at the ripe age of 10, that I was definitely too old to
start playing hockey.


Instead, I joined a sport that was more acceptable and accessible to pre-teen girls: basketball. And I
hated it. I was the only one who had never played before, and my confusion showed. In my professional
photo, I had my jersey on backward, and that alone tells you about how well I did on the court. I felt
stupid and deficient. To this day, I have a sour spot for basketball.
The desire to play hockey remained in the back of my mind as I grew up. I considered it again in high
school, but I then became aware of the stigma that “girls who play hockey are gay.” In a time when I
just wanted to fit in and be “normal,” there was no way I’d risk people calling me “gay.” Hell no, I wasn’t
gay.


In reality, I’d never even considered the fact that I could be gay because growing up, we never learned
that relationships were anything other than a male and a female. I didn’t know anyone who was actually
gay and not just the derogatory “gay” that kids labeled each other around the turn of the century. I
wasn’t really into boys, and I wasn’t into make-up and other stereotypical teenage girl things, but I
thought I was just weird and broken. After all, it was better to be secretly immensely ashamed of being
weird and broken than to be gay, right?!


Toward the end of high school, one of my friends rekindled my desire to play hockey. She had found a
women’s rec league in town. Cool, we could join together and I wouldn’t look so “gay.” To our despair,
we then learned we had to be 18 (or 21?) and we were under the age limit – with no exceptions. Ok, so
now I was too young to play hockey!


Period 2: Betrayal by my body
My chance to play hockey in college (and the years thereafter) dwindled once again when I developed
debilitating health symptoms and all my life’s plans changed significantly. l often felt on the verge of
passing out, and I blacked out on my way to class a few times. My heart would race as if I were in the 3rd
period of a championship hockey game – just from standing up or sitting upright for too long. I had
constant dizziness, migraines, fatigue, nausea, sensory sensitivities, etc. My symptoms were countless
and all over the place. I was later diagnosed with an autoimmune neurological disease and
dysautonomia, a dysfunction of the body’s autonomic nervous system. Basically, my body was attacking
itself and cheating by making up its own rules instead of doing the normal body/organ functions. And
such cheating was not at all conducive to playing hockey.

My health declined further in the years following graduation. I was eventually mostly stuck at home. I
had trouble walking without assistance, I lived off tube feeding to my intestines, and I had IV lines in my
arms and chest. I spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital for several years. Needless to say, things
were not good. I was much too sick to play hockey!


Period 3: Anxiety Takes the Reins
On top of the health fiasco, I was also becoming more and more isolated socially which also led to
depression. As an introvert with some level of social anxiety already, the isolation only solidified my
feelings of awkwardness and not knowing how to socialize like a human being. My friends eventually
moved away or fell out of contact with me because I was too sick to ever do anything or because they
feared what would happen to me. The ever-increasing isolation coupled with the fear that I could no
longer relate to anyone my age added up to some wicked social terror. It also led to some serious
internal debates about whether I had a place or purpose in society or whether I was just a burden taking
up resources. I was too anxious, depressed, and sick to play hockey!


But humans, like monkeys, are social animals. (I work with monkeys, hence the reference!). I was so
lonely and I longed for friendships, acquaintances, and connection. As my health improved, thanks to
finally finding the right (albeit expensive!) treatments, I ventured out into the world a bit. In all honestly,
I partly did it just enough to appease my therapist and let her know that I tried doing the whole social
thing and it sucked…and my first experiences did suck. As an academic, I just wanted there to be a
manual on “How to be a Human 101” that I could memorize so I could avoid all the awkward and
craptastic experiences. I couldn’t even socialize with others. I was clearly too awkward to play hockey!

Celebrating the Win – ie What Gay Hockey Means to Me:
With ongoing professional encouragement and because I’m a good student (even in therapy!), I finally
took the big leap and signed up to play hockey with MGHA. I paid the dues before my anxiety could
change my mind and tell me to back out. Then this really cool thing happened – I went to my first few
weeks of hockey, and each time, although I was physically drained, I felt energized and excited instead
of dejected and rejected. I didn’t want to wait another week before going back!


I’d never met such a welcoming, inclusive group of people before joining gay hockey. Upon meeting the
folks of MGHA, I felt an instant connection or sense of belonging that I haven’t felt in a long time – likely
since before I was that 10-year-old girl afraid to play hockey with the boys, concerned that I wasn’t
feminine enough or that I didn’t like boys enough. I truly believe this is because I finally feel safe and
comfortable being 100% me without having to hide part of myself or act the way I think I should act in
order to fit in.


Society tends to say tell us things like “Be yourself” and “Embrace your differences.” They tell us that
“Love is love,” and “Disabilities are just different abilities.” However, those words are rarely backed up
by action or genuine feelings of it being safe to believe it or celebrate it without being judged or othered
to some degree. Often, it feels like society says one thing, but means another. In MGHA, the actions and
sentiments are backed up with the genuine feeling of being accepted just as you are, however you are,
regardless of sexuality, disability, etc.


There is something special about being able to show up and feeling like you fit in, without that voice in
the back of your head wondering what people are really thinking and stressing about what you need to
do to appear “normal.” I don’t have to be the feminine female that society says (or means) I should be. I don’t have to have a husband or a traditional lucrative career and fancy home to feel like I fit in. And
unlike so many sports, I don’t feel like I have to be a skilled and super athletic player to feel like I deserve
a spot on the team. I can be awkward, fumble my words, or do something stupid, and they don’t look at
me funny and cast me aside – they embrace my awkward and keep talking to me as I relearn how to be
human.


Through MGHA hockey, I’ve learned to push myself and recondition my body beyond what I ever
thought I’d be able to do again. Importantly, I’ve also to play within my limits; in other words, I don’t
have to stay on the ice until I am on the brink of passing out in order to please the team. MGHA has
taught me to push myself in all the right ways (even if that means holding back or taking a break) by
giving me a safe and supportive environment to do so. My teammates cheer me on and give me positive
feedback, even when I struggle, rather than reject me.


Don’t get me wrong, I still have ongoing health struggles and medical hardware installed. I was (and
probably still am) hella awkward…but my MGHA people do not seem to mind. I’ve built acquaintances
and friendships. Heck, I even ended up unexpectedly finding a relationship through all my 1200 layers of
awkward!


So what does gay hockey mean to me? Well, to put it in a more succinct fashion, it has helped me
become a human again, in both a physical and social sense. It’s shown me that “Embrace your
differences” and “It’s ok to be gay” are real sentiments, not words that may or may not be true. It’s
helped me venture back out into the world by providing a truly safe space and by empowering me to
feel confident in who I am as myself, not as who I think society wants me to be.


I could say that I’m sad that I didn’t start playing hockey way back at 10 years old when I first decided
that I wanted to play. Indeed, there is a part of me that’s sad that I’ve missed so many years of this great
sport, but the truth is, I don’t think I’d have had nearly as positive of an experience as I have with MGHA.
Like my one year playing basketball, I’d have probably felt stressed and deficient, decided I didn’t like
the sport, and then quit forever. I like this ending much better – the one where I can say “I am too
worth it NOT to be playing hockey!”