Mountain Women’s Hockey League wraps up 15th year in Vail Valley
'It's more than just a sport for us'
The Mountain Women’s Hockey League wrapped up its 15th season at the Eagle Ice Rink in March, celebrating 15 years of competitive hockey and camaraderie for women in the valley.
The Eagles, coached by Glen Thurston and captained by Claudia Wells and Cathy Wetzel, won the regular season league title; and the Twisted Sisters won the end-of-season tournament, coached by Jim Mallas, Aaron Beckman and Erik Barcza and captained by Kori Grice and Deb Oakes.
“It’s more than just a sport for us,” said league commissioner Sheryl Staten. “It’s definitely a supportive group of women doing things on and off the ice together. It seems to start with hockey and then develop into true friendships for people. It’s also great exercise.”
The Mountain Women’s Hockey League, run by Mountain Recreation, features women from all walks of life in the valley and some from Summit and Aspen. Athletes are of all ages, from people in their 20s to others in their 60s, and the season runs from early November to the St. Patrick’s Day weekend tournament. In October, preseason clinics take place on Sundays.
The league averages between five and six teams, with 70-90 women participating — and new skaters are always welcome to join. While it’s friendly competition, it’s still competition.
“They’re getting penalties and definitely want to win,” said Staten, who also said the league keeps stats throughout the season. “It’s stepped up and come a long way.”
Rental gear is available for those looking to test it out.
‘Hockey tribe of women’
Staten has been playing in the league since it started, having worked at the Eagle Ice Rink and wanting to get involved.
She remembers when games used to be played at Dobson Ice Arena in Vail before being played solely in Eagle.
On the ice, she has seen an improvement over the years.
“Every year this league’s gotten better, as far as speed and ability,” Staten said.
Off the ice, she has seen friendships form.
“I see how it effects people more than just on the ice,” she said. “I see the support outside the ice rink, too. It’s huge in this day and age when we have a lot going on in our lives and we need this time for our hockey tribe of women to support each other.”
Throughout the year outside of the rink, members of the league will meet up on the river, enjoy ski outings together and other ways to stay together.
While it’s a women’s hockey league, men have a role in it all, too.
“We have families and lots of great hockey dads that watch the kids while the moms are playing,” Staten said.
To join the Mountain Women’s Hockey League, sign up through Mountain Recreation. The league returns with its draft in November.