Beatrice Johansson is 24-years-old. And now her hockey career is finished.
Looking at her age alone, it’s easy to apply phrases like “cut short” or “over too soon,” and it’s true. Johansson’s hockey career is over too soon. It was cut short not by injuries, but by the consequences of a system that sees female athletes as less important than their male counterparts.
Johansson’s team, Sundsvall/Timrå, was removed from the SDHL by its parent organization on May 31st as a means to save money for the men’s third-tier Division 1 team. The measure failed; the men’s team folded less than a month later.
In an interview with Hockey Sverige Johansson gave more insight into both the team’s treatment and the greater ramifications for girl’s hockey in Sundsvall.
“It feels like their future in hockey has in some ways died because there’s no team to want to come to.”
She would know. Johansson played youth hockey in Kovland, in Sundsvall Municipality. She joined the Sundsvall organization in 2005; after leaving for MODO she returned in 2011 and had been a cornerstone of the team ever since, even serving as captain for two seasons. Johansson only played 16 games last year after suffering from burnout as the dual responsibilities of a full-time job and professional hockey took their toll. Despite her health issues and a foot operation in May, she was determined to return to the ice.
When asked by Hockey Sverige why she’d made the decision to retire, Johansson became emotional. This was not an easy decision for her.
“It is extremely tough to say it because it is the first time I say it loud...I really love hockey, oh my God. It’s really hard to see my future without spending many hours in an ice rink."
Johansson’s sadness and frustration are evident throughout the interview. An important part of her life is over, and it is clear that it did not end on her terms.
While she didn’t rule out the possibility of taking a staff position in the future, Johansson’s focus is on self-care and moving on. “I will probably not be around hockey, not now anyway,” she shared. “I have to distance myself completely or it will be too hard.”
Thanks to Erik Gustafsson for translation help.