Category: Uncategorized

June 30, 2020 Board Minutes

Date: June 30, 2020
Attendees: Amanda Thornton, Alan Silver, Halley Pucker, Gene Zadzilka, Ian Leach, Avery Cordingley
Absent:
Location: google meet


Meeting with Summer league updates/Fall league plans

  • Plan is to not have hockey in the summer with rising cases
  • Keeping in mind our mission:
    • Safety first!
    • Make a fun and inclusive environment for hockey
    • Bring people who have never played hockey before to our league and get them to love it like we do!
  • Fall league next steps:
    • Cases are rising; how do we come up with benchmarks?
      • July 26th – MGHA Forum on COVID with a pre-survey
      • Breakout rooms with one board member each
      • Survey will be allowed to be anonymous as well
      • Al and Amanda to produce the survey
    • Once we have the information from our MGHAGo/No go dates for next season:
      • August 23rd for season decide whether we start in September vs November
      • Oct 15th decide November vs. January
      • Regardless, we’ll need to add social component for new recruits
        • Ian and Halley to take point on this
      • Potentially leverage Mid-week practices/instructions for newbies to catch up the season/get the newbies integrated into the league


Bryan Zaramba – 2019-2020 Essay

“while my friendships in the league were still forming, it was my progress as an athlete that surprised and sustained me.”

Bryan’s Profile

What does the MGHA mean to me? When I sat down to write about what the MGHA means to me, it was shocking to me how quickly I realized my feelings about the MGHA could be distilled into a single word: love. Love from others in a supportive, caring community; and love for myself as a gay man in that community, and as an athlete.

I joined the MGHA in 2018, on the recommendation of a stranger on the internet, at a time of enormous change in my life. I was in the process of moving, by myself, from my lifelong home in New England to Wisconsin, a state I had been to only twice and knew exactly one person. Knowing that I would need to make friends, I asked Reddit where to meet gay people in Madison, and a former member of the MGHA messaged me and recommended that I join. Despite the fact that I hadn’t played organized sports since middle school, when I had been allowed to quit baseball after getting hit in the face three practices in a row, I put in an application.

My first year in the MGHA is a bit of a blur to me, even just a year later. So much was happening in my life–learning a new job, finding my way around a new city, figuring out how to live by myself–but the MGHA became a source of stability and joy in my life. As the months went on, I started spending most of the week waiting for Sunday night, and for the Wednesdays when I and my new friends would go to the Shell for extra skating practice. 

Initially, while my friendships in the league were still forming, it was my progress as an athlete that surprised and sustained me. For the first time in a very long time, I was doing something physical that required patience and practice, and I could feel myself getting better, week after week. After years of complacency in my personal life, I had forgotten what it felt like to be proud of my achievements, and the MGHA gave me the opportunity to play a game and to genuinely enjoy the process of getting better. The inclusive style of play in MGHA allowed me to feel like I was contributing, even while I was falling down, or whiffing the puck, or turning so slowly I was behind the other team’s defense when they whisked by me. 

On the ice, the MGHA has given me the space to learn who I am as an athlete after a lifetime of thinking of myself as a watcher of sports, not a participant. But off the ice, the MGHA has provided me with something even more valuable: a community that genuinely cares about each other, both on an individual level and on an institutional level.

One of the things that struck me most about the MGHA was the earnest friendliness of almost everyone in the league. Coming from New England, a place where people are generally reserved about making new friends, I was pleasantly surprised about how open people in the MGHA were to sitting next to new people in the stands and inviting those people into their circles of friends. 

This year, I decided to volunteer as a captain and on a number of committees to help give back to the community. What I appreciate most about participating on the “back end” of the MGHA is how that spirit of friendliness and inclusion is cultivated, intentionally, at the institutional level. It’s not just that I happened to sit next to people who were friendly last year; it’s that the volunteers who run the MGHA put hours of thoughtful discussion and effort into making the MGHA a positive experience for everyone who participates. Sometimes they’re faced with tough decisions that not everyone is happy with, but they make those decisions with a spirit of giving back to their community. 

But the MGHA isn’t just an exceptionally friendly developmental hockey league. It’s also an explicitly LGBTQ-friendly space, and it is unlike any I’ve ever been in before. What I love about the MGHA as a space for LGBTQ-identifying people is that, as a player and member, it feels so effortlessly supportive of everyone’s gender identity and sexual orientation, while focusing on your inclusion in the hockey community and your development as a player. Before I came out, one of my biggest concerns was that I felt like I didn’t belong in gay spaces because being gay wasn’t a central part of my identity, and I didn’t feel “gay enough.” For me, the revelatory experience of joining the MGHA was finding a gay space that didn’t feel like it was making assumptions about who I was, or what I wanted out of that space. The MGHA is set up to give each player (or fan in the stands) the space to bring who they are to the table, and to encourage all of us to be supportive and understanding as we figure out what exactly that is.

So, what does gay hockey mean to me? It’s my life, it’s my friends, it’s my community. And if it’s not already yours, I hope you join soon.

Nat Carlston – 2019-2020 Essay

Nat’s Profile

I joined the MGHA in 2017 and started my 3rd season this year. At the tail end of 2016 I moved to Madison from Boston and had felt as though I had lost a great sense of community and friendship moving here. I was struggling to find a sense of belonging and was actively searching to move elsewhere when I happened to take a day and go ice skating at the UW Shell ice rink. It was there that I had a skater approach me and ask if I played hockey, and if I had heard of the MGHA. Little did I know this was the start of finding everything I had been looking for.

I have wanted to play hockey for many years and always struggled to find a beginner friendly league. The MGHA was not only a developmental players league, but also a LGBTQ environment that supported its players to both learn hockey and have a safe space to be oneself. I quickly gained some of the best friends one could ever ask for and share in learning a sport I have longed to be a part of. As soon as I touched the ice I was surrounded by the most welcoming group of people who all supported one another and cheered for each person’s growth and successes. Over the years I have played many team sports, but playing with the MGHA was the first time on a team that I felt so accepted and a part of something bigger. I have since become a captain and a mentor within the league and love the opportunity to support others starting their hockey journey and seeing them find themselves, as I was able to. This league opened the door to so many of the best parts of my life that I cannot begin to express how grateful I am.

Julie Anderson – 2019-2020 Essay

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Julie’s Profile

Hockey has been my passion for as long as I can remember.  My parents did not let me play growing up but that didn’t stop me from spending as much time at ice rinks as possible.  Watching my younger brother play, going to friends’ games, working at a family friends’ rink, attending college games on my own, and finally having my own kids to experience the hockey life with.  I’ve been a hockey mom now for 11 years. A hockey board member. A Zamboni driver. Concession stand worker. Game scheduler. Tournament director. The hockey life list goes on and on.

A few years ago, after moving to this area, a hockey dad convinced me to play in a “Kids vs. Parents” game.  They didn’t have a goalie, my son is a goalie (not for this particular team), and would I play goal for the parent team?  Sure, why not? As is often said, goalies are crazy! So, at the age of 43, I played goalie and I fell in love! From there, said hockey dad, who has become one of my best friends, convinced me to play in their Friday Night Beginners League, which I love.  Then I was asked to play on a women’s team, which I did not love; too much drama! I play as often as I can. I’ve played on teams of those I have never met. I’ve played where I travel and stay in VRBO’s, like a sailboat. I play with friends that I look forward to seeing on the ice each week. I play with a group of guys that make me laugh while trying to beat me up. And I fulfilled a bucket list item by playing Pond Hockey in Eagle River. While wearing goalie skates!

Forward to the current hockey season.  A friend, Keith, from another group asked me if I would be willing to play goalie on his team for Madison Gay Hockey Association (MGHA). I’ve heard of MGHA and I have heard they are a great organization.  But, should I be on a team for gay hockey? I am not gay. 

The funny thing is, without even knowing what was going on in my life, Keith extended the offer for me to play, we chatted about it, and I finally I said I could do some games but couldn’t commit to all.  I wasn’t sure this was the right group for me, but I was willing to give it a try. What was going on in my life at the time? My oldest child, my first baby, “my Girl” as I’ve always called him had started the process of transitioning to a male.  As a mother this was very difficult to accept. I couldn’t understand why and I had a lot of unanswered questions. I was hurting, but mostly I was scared. My child has a chronic disease and I was scared of what hormones would do. I was also scared the decision my child had made would lead to a very difficult lifestyle for him.  I wasn’t familiar with the LGBTQ community and I didn’t know how I was going to support my baby.

I showed up to my first game with the Avalanche Avengers knowing only 1 person.  I had not spent much time in the gay community but I am very open to everyone being their own person. The first person I met was extremely friendly and offered me a hug (it’s a funny story). Everyone I met after that were just as friendly and welcoming. They were all ready to have fun.  They were all extremely supportive of each other and encouraged each other to play the MGHA way. I wasn’t sure what to expect, I was nervous, this was a new experience for me, and I can say I went out to play my first game with MGHA and I sucked!

Since that first night, I have come to love my Sunday nights with all the people involved with MGHA.  I started to refer to MGHA as “Happy Hockey” to my friends. Everyone was so happy and we have so much fun playing.  Cheering each other on, encouraging new skaters to try something different, helping each other up, and laughing! Oh, the laughing!  But that was only the on-ice fun stuff. Happy Hockey became the place I learned more about my child. The place I have met people from all walks of life. The place I look around and see an amazing community that I know my child will be safe in.  And a place that I so badly wanted to get my child involved in! With a little pushing, a lot of support from my team Captains, and the Board, my son is now an Avalanche Avenger along with me. The joy I get from watching him skate and make friends, and be 100% himself, is priceless.

What is MGHA to me?  Happy Hockey!

Ian Leach – 2019-2020 Essay

Ian’s Profile

It’s 2016 – I’m going into my sophomore year of college living in a brand new city in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Desperately looking for community and not really knowing how to find it in the predominately-high income school I was attending, I decided that one of the best options would be a semi-local gay soccer league near Detroit. I thought that playing in this league might give me the opportunity to find a like-minded community that cared about social justice and inclusivity, especially in a sport I had played for the majority of my life.

The experience ultimately turned out to be one of the most problematic queer spaces I have ever attended. Frequented by nearly all cis- and gay men, I encountered fatphobia and transphobia in many of the people I played with. My body image and self-esteem ultimately tanked and, frankly, I would struggle to count on only two hands the number of problematic statements I found from the people within the league.

When I left the league after only one year of playing, I thought that queer sports might not ever fit into my life. I questioned if the activity of sport could ever shed its heteronormative and transphobic nature to create an environment that was supportive of all people and cared about improving all aspects of life for queer and trans folx. That is, until I found the MGHA. 

I honestly don’t recall how I found the MGHA after moving to Madison in 2018. Whether it was a message from one of the recruiters on various queer applications or a Facebook advertisement, I ultimately decided that I was going to get onto the ice despite never having played hockey before. And I am so, so grateful that I did. 

It all started with a 6-week clinic that showed me and my cohort all of the ropes of skating. It started as one of the challenging experiences of my life – as someone who carries a lot of pride and issues with perfectionism, it seemed a daunting task to show that I wasn’t “good enough” at something to anyone. It became much easier when my group of never-skaters were so supportive of one another. Every Sunday, we strapped on our hockey gear, fell a few times while practicing and learning, and finally spent the night messaging one another how grateful we were to be doing this together. It’s challenging showing to a 200-person league that you’re not yet good at an activity, but it’s a lot easier when you reframe this as an opportunity to be vulnerable in front of 200 people who care and support you in all aspects of your identity.

Only two weeks after I started the league, my father passed away from brain cancer. As with many queer people, and to put it lightly, I had a complicated relationship with my family – my father never fully accepted me as an out-and-proud gay man and I hadn’t talked to nearly all of my biological family for most of my years throughout college. My father’s passing was and still is one of the most challenging experiences I’ve ever experienced; finding any constructive escape to the reality of picking up the pieces of my life has been something I was and still am desperately been searching for.

Thankfully, the MGHA has remained a constant in my first year without my father and, perhaps more importantly, in my first year of finding my new normal.  Like nothing else I have been able to find, in sport or otherwise, I feel like a kid again. Every Sunday night, I sign up to sub in literally every game I can – I think I’d play 100 games on a Sunday if I could.  Despite traveling extensively for work, I make sure I get back every Sunday so I can play hockey every week.

The MGHA ultimately represents roots for me here in Madison. It represents a future for sporting activities that I so deeply believe in – that it really is possible to have sport be a supportive space for learning and community. Finding my new normal after tragedy has certainly been hard, but I know hockey and the MGHA will have a big role in helping me get to that place in life. 

Martha Hansen – 2019-2020 Essay

“My feelings of indecision evaporated: I knew that I wanted to be part of this community again and that I could be.”

Martha’s Essay and Profile

I first heard about MGHA in 2016 while preparing to move back to Madison, my home town, after almost 40 years away. My old friend Susan told me she had a lesbian co-worker who played in Madison’s gay hockey league and maybe I could join too. We had a good laugh about that, given that I was: a) 56 years old; b) had never participated in any organized sport; and c) had spent the majority of my adult life avoiding any and all physical activity. And HOCKEY of all things — come on! Everyone knows it’s a rough, difficult, and expensive sport, not to mention a total boyzone: I had vivid memories from my youth of being at the neighborhood outdoor ice skating rink wearing the white figure skates that were de rigueur for girls in those days and watching the boys play hockey on the other side of the boards, a place where I knew I would be unwelcome if it had ever even occurred to me to try to join in, which it didn’t.

So yeah, Susan and I chuckled and moved on, but for some reason, as ridiculous as it seemed, the MGHA stuck in my mind. So I decided to check out the web site, and when I did, I was immediately impressed with and moved by the MGHA’s commitment to tolerance and inclusion and the fact that it was truly open to all: LGBTQIA and straight people; folks who identified as male, female, and nonbinary; and skaters and non-skaters alike. The cost, while not insignificant, was manageable, with financial assistance available to those in need of it, and it was a rec league, so there was no concern about body-checking or any kind of violence.

I was amazed to find out that the MGHA would accept people who didn’t even know how to ice skate, much less play hockey, promising to teach anyone who wanted to learn. Remembering my time spent goofing around on the ice rink as a kid, I assured myself that I most certainly knew how to skate! (LOL, more on that later.) In reading through the web site with its emphasis on inclusion of marginalized folks and people who’d been made to feel unwelcome in more traditional sports settings, I realized that in spite of my general societal privilege, I did in fact fall into a marginalized group in terms of hockey: as a girl growing up in the pre-Title IX days, it had never occurred to me that it was a world I could enter.

As lucky as I am to have friends and family in the Madison area, there’s still that thing about being around your own tribe. I had left behind a wonderful group of gay and lesbian friends in Albuquerque, and I knew I would need that in Madison too, especially being newly single again. Having left Madison so long ago, before I identified as a lesbian, I had no idea where to start. But here — so very unexpectedly — was the MGHA. True, I was not an athlete and had exactly zero interest in becoming one, but I had quit my job and moved cross-country to start a new life in the aftermath of my mother’s death and my own divorce, so hell — why not hockey? I got in touch via email and was assured by Randi that I was not too old to give it a shot, and after signing up I was assigned a mentor who was equally encouraging. Susan and her hockey-playing family helped me buy the gear, and I was set to go. The orientation session was as impressive as the web site had been, with its emphasis on inclusion, inclusion, tolerance, and inclusion, accompanied by safety, safety, fun, and safety.

I went to the beginner clinics and found that ice skating was much harder than I remembered (which shouldn’t have been a surprise, given my 40-year hiatus), but also found that no one batted an eye at my advanced age or low skill level: I was treated just like everyone else. Inspired by others who had begun skating as adults and rapidly achieved impressive proficiency, I started going to open skate sessions at the Shell in an effort to improve. It was there, just days before the first game of the season, that I fell and broke my wrist. Although deeply embarrassed, I forced myself to show my face again to my new teammates and other MGHA folks, all of whom reacted with kindness and commiseration. I was offered an open door to return whenever I chose and was jovially assured by several MGHA-ers that they had played hockey with injuries and even in casts and had been fine. Still, sitting out the remainder of the season seemed the sensible thing to do, and I did.

I thought long and hard over spring/summer 2017 about whether I could or should give hockey another try. With the encouragement of Susan (who had decided to join MGHA with me in 2016 and had played the whole season and had a blast), I signed up again. Now age 57, I was feeling like the world’s oldest rookie, but as I began the preseason beginner clinics for the second time, I found myself welcomed back into the league with open arms. I played for Team Red, aka Redrum, and had a fine time, being treated with great patience and kindness by some seriously good hockey players. As before, I was determined to improve my skating and hockey skills, so I also joined a women’s beginner team, through which I met some more great people and got some excellent coaching and even scored a goal! It was a fun season, but playing for two teams was a little more than I’d bargained for, and I ended up deciding to sit out the 2018-19 season.

In the summer of 2019, I was feeling indecisive about returning to the MGHA, but, having just turned 59 (!), I figured that if I ever planned to attempt hockey again, now was the time, so I contacted the recruiting team about reactivating my membership. I almost immediately heard from two (2!) of my Redrum teammates saying how happy they’d be to see me come back! My feelings of indecision evaporated: I knew that I wanted to be part of this community again and that I could be.

Now, with the 2019-20 season coming to a close, here I am, with another full season under my belt, new friends made, much fun had, and even a goal scored!

I won’t lie — I still struggle with self-consciousness about my age and anxiety about my abilities. But it’s important to note that these difficulties are entirely self-imposed: Every MGHA member I’ve ever interacted with, no matter their age or skill level, has been friendly and kind and welcoming. No one has ever asked me, as I have frequently asked myself, what in the world are you doing trying to learn hockey at your age? So I’m here to tell you that when the MGHA says it, they really mean it: Hockey is for everyone — even a rookie who’s practically retirement age. Thanks, MGHA, for welcoming me into the world of hockey as well as home to my community.

Membership Vote September 2019

The following people have applied for membership in the MGHA. Please click on their name to see each person’s application. Once you’ve read the applications you can click on the boxes to the side of their names to vote; voting “Yes” means you are voting for this person to become a member, while voting “No” means that you are voting against their becoming a member.

Voting will be open from now until September 30th. You may change your votes at any time until voting closes.

You must log in to vote.

Biggest Gay Hockey League in the World!

We have officially surpassed Toronto as the largest gay hockey league in the world! 14 teams, over 190 players, and still growing!

We are going to need a LOT of gear for our new players this season so clean out your closets and use this as an excuse to treat yourself to new elbow pads, shins, shoulders, etc and donate the old ones to a new player! Details of our gear up event will be posted asap.