As the Isobel Cup was being contested for in Wesley Chapel, Florida, a small, but enthusiastic watch party assembled on campus at Brock University.
It was a humble affair, the game projected onto the screen in a classroom, noisemakers bought from the dollar store and boxes of snacks sitting on top of desks. Some poster board, markers, and a few trips to the library printer was all that was needed to form cheering sections for either teams.
the pride might have won the cup, but the whale had the best sign pic.twitter.com/grohSuQrDK— holly (@HollyyMorrison) March 29, 2022
The event was organized by a third year Sport Management student named Kyra Kwan with the help of her professor, Dr. Taylor McKee.
Kwan was working on a project in one of Dr. McKee’s classes, working with the Grindstone Award Foundation when the topic of women’s hockey came up.
“He asked a group of us what we wanted to do with our careers and I said ‘I want to do something with women’s hockey’ and he was like ‘come talk with me after and we’ll try and do something’ so I went and talked to him. He brought up the idea of a watch party and said he’d help me out and book the room and try to get me in contact with the PHF,” said Kwan.
Kwan started organizing the watch party from there, she reached out to a handful of organizations at Brock to help promote the event and eventually got in contact with the PHF’s Vice President of Promotions and Marketing, Katie Gardner who arranged for Kwan to get in contact with the PHF’s social team.
“It feels pretty surreal,” said Kwan, “I woke up and I checked my email and I saw an email from the PHF and I was sort of freaking out. I was just in disbelief because I was like ‘why would they want to pay attention to a university student like me,” said Kwan.
Kwan sent along graphics and links to the PHF who then promoted the event through their own channels.
“Once they retweeted my tweet, it got like 60 likes and five retweets, which is a lot for me because I have less than thirty followers,” Kwan joked.
The watch party brought visibility to women’s hockey, a sport that (despite Brock’s sizeable Sport Management Program). doesn’t always get the same amount of visibility as the men’s game on campus. Kwan has been playing hockey since she was five years old, but it wasn’t until later that she learned about women’s hockey existing outside of the Olympics.
“I had no idea what they would do when it wasn’t an Olympic year,” said Kwan.
It wasn’t until high school that Kwan realized that there were professional women’s hockey leagues.
“In high school I tried to do a co-op with the Markham Thunder but that fell through and then I ended up volunteering with them for a couple of games,”
When the CWHL folded, Kwan followed the players to the PWHPA and began volunteering whenever they had events in Toronto. Kwan is a Toronto Six fan, and was hoping to see them in the Isobel Cup Final.
When the puck dropped, most of the viewing party was cheering for the Whale, but soon decided that both teams should get posters and someone to cheer when they scored. At some moments, everyone was fixated on the game, watching as Jillian Dempsey opened up the scoring, cheering for the Whale to tie things up. At other times, it was a chance to talk about all things hockey.
The timing wasn’t the most convenient for students to turn out to, so Kwan wasn’t expecting too much out of the viewing party, but she hopes the idea can grow and continue bringing women’s hockey fans together at Brock University.