My upbringing was not very conducive to serious hockey fandom. I grew up in the Arizona desert. I think I only ice skated once between birth and my mid-twenties. I vaguely remember attending a few Phoenix Roadrunners games when I was a kid. The Coyotes came to town when I was 13, but at that point my rooting interests were pretty well tied up in basketball, baseball, and football.
I moved to DC after college and got hooked on hockey pretty easily--the Capitals were an up and coming team at the time, with a lot of exciting young players. I became a die-hard fan, following the team steadfastly through many playoff disappointments.
After 8 years in DC, my wife and I finally managed to escape, arriving in Minnesota 3 years ago. I was excited to be in a place where hockey was a bigger part of the local culture. We looked into getting tickets to a Gopher men's game. The cheapest available tickets were $30-35 for standing room only. My wife, being pregnant at the time, was not particularly interested in those seats. In looking up alternatives I realized that we could go to a Gopher women's game that same weekend for $5 each--a pretty easy choice!
I had very loosely followed the women in the 2010 Olympics, and had seen some articles about the women's team's dominance during their streak, but otherwise I was going in more or less blind. They lost that first game we attended to Bemidji, 1-0. Even so, I couldn't help but be impressed by the speed of the game and the level of hockey on display.
We ended up going to several more games that season and we also saw them take home the National Championship trophy at the end of the year (I'm still a huge Caps fan, but imagine, a hockey team that wins when it counts!). We ended up buying season tickets the following season, and again last year, and we joined the Power Play Club, the team's booster organization. My wife was a national champion wrestler growing up, during a time when women's wrestling was not yet an Olympic sport and women wrestlers had to fight for every shred of respect, recognition, and support. We both feel like it is important to give women equal opportunity to participate and excel in sports, especially those in which the women's game is vastly overshadowed by the men.
Our son, now 2, has attended dozens of games and has become hockey-mad himself. He sleeps with a stuffed Goldy, and uses wooden spoons, baseballs, and bike helmets as his hockey stick, puck, and helmet, respectively. He loves pointing out the goalies and referees, cheering when the Gophers score a goal (after getting over his initial fear of the goal horn), and being able to meet the players after games. I love being able to share that experience with him, and I hope that I'm raising a future advocate for women's sports and equal opportunity.