Thursday, 28 May 2015

Erika Vanderveer's time at The Hockey News represents potential careers for women in hockey

In a time when the women's game is working towards finding methods to establish a living wage, another factor deserving of consideration is jobs for women in hockey. As Erika Vanderveer plans the next stages of her professional career, her time at The Hockey News represented the potential for female hockey players to obtain good careers in hockey. Working as the Art Director for the last three years (and another three as a Designer), Vanderveer admirably balanced her employment with the popular periodical while standing between the pipes for numerous clubs at the CWHL level.

During her playing career, she held the rare distinction of having played for three different CWHL teams in the Greater Toronto Area (of note, she stood between the pipes for the Brampton Thunder, Burlington Barracudas and Toronto Furies). In addition, she was also a member of the Boston Blades during their inaugural season.

Quite possibly the greatest milestone in her career at The Hockey News was the opportunity to work on the landmark Women's Hockey Issue, released in the autumn of 2012. Featuring Winter Games gold medalist Tessa Bonhomme on the cover (who played with Vanderveer during the 2012-13 Toronto Furies season), the fact that a women's hockey player such as Vanderveer also worked on the magazine added to the unique distinction of this issue.

Of note, Vanderveer's early years with The Hockey News also invovled a series of superlative blogs.  It not only reflected her acumen towards the game, providing great relevance, but it added a nice human touch, welcoming nascent fans into a wonderful and sometimes under appreciated world where women earned the chance to become hockey heroes in a traditionally male dominated field.

As such, Vanderveer's work in media was complemented by another teammate and dear friend who was also working hard towards gender equality. Amber Bowman, who played with Vanderveer at Ohio State and with the Furies, is a heroic firefighter who has carved a dynasty in the World Fire Fighter Competitions. Along with Vanderveer, the two showed great ambition in their effort to audition for The Amazing Race Canada.   

Their efforts have not only contributed to women's hockey players becoming role models for young girls, but it has shown solid examples of how women can still make worthwhile contributions once they hang up their skates. As a side note, there are other women making significant inroads. Former Furies teammates such as Kori Cheverie (working with Ryerson University) and Rebecca Davies (working for Maple Leaf Sports Entertainment) are two shining examples. Former Robert Morris Colonials star player Cobina Delaney works for the Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group, the parent company of numerous sporting properties in the nation's capital, including the Ottawa 67's.

Current realities still dictate that the limited resources of both the CWHL and the NWHL makes it difficult to have a front office akin to their male counterparts, limiting opportunities for now. Should both leagues continue to grow, the next generation may see opportunities to expand and employ former players in management or scouting capacities.

While the launch of her own website sees Vanderveer's entrepreneurial spirit branch out, her contributions to The Hockey News were not only observed with keen interest but appreciated by those in the women's hockey community. Should the day come that the AHL and/or the NHL hire women to serve as general managers, scouting directors or head coaches, those women may reflect on Vanderveer's work as the encouraging influence to believe such dreams of equality were realized.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

NWHL Trophy to be named after first builder of women’s hockey

As the newly conceived NWHL continues to take shape, a key component includes the announcement of a championship trophy. Named after Lady Isobel Stanley (later Gathorne-Hardy), the daughter of Lord Stanley of Preston, whom the iconic Stanley Cup is named after, it is an extension of the family’s historic hockey legacy. As a side note, she was the one who convinced her father to create the Cup. 
Lady Isobel first made her mark on hockey history by participating in the first women’s hockey game. Contested at the Rideau Rink in 1889 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, Lady Isobel helped to break hockey’s gender barrier. A number of years later, Lady Minto, the wife of Lord Minto (who would succeed Lord Stanley as Canada’s Governor General) would also take to the ice, surprising many with her strong hockey skills.
In March 2016, players from the NWHL’s four charter franchises (the Boston Pride, the Buffalo Beauts, the Connecticut Whale and the New York Riveters) shall compete for the inaugural Isobel Cup. Should the league manage to acquire free agents from the CWHL, it shall provide an extra element of intrigue to the postseason.
Should any players from the inaugural Isobel Cup championship have earned a Clarkson Cup championship in previous seasons, it would add to the growing lore of women’s hockey. Taking into account that Janine Weber, the first European to score the game-winning goal in a Clarkson Cup final is attending the Connecticut Whale's training camp, she has a special opportunity to be the first European to win both Cups. In addition, the chance for a player to have won both Cups would serve to compose a newfound element of prestige for their careers. 
Of note, the Isobel Cup is not the ony prize named in her honor. Hockey Canada has an award named the Isobel Gathorne-Hardy Award, which is awarded to an active player at any level, recognizing values such as leadership and personal traits that set a positive example for all female athletes. Among the most notable winners includes Team Canada alumnae such as Cathy Phillips, Andria Hunter and Caroline Ouellette.