When we started the Women and Hockey series, we asked CSN reporter Jill Sorenson for some suggestions and she steered us to hockey mom, wife, and player, Wendy Hockey, who plays for the Hockey Donkeys at Skate Frederick. We had a chance to talk about life as a hockey mom and how she was drawn to play hockey herself. She is one of those great ladies who supports her kids as players, as well as her husband (by joining his team), and who has devoted her time and energy to the sport many of us only get to watch. Here’s Wendy’s story:
Wendy began playing hockey after her children became involved in hockey. Her boys began to play around the ages of eight or nine and before long her daughter, Emily, would trade in her figure skates for hockey skates. She said she didn’t want to wear the dresses and wanted to do what her brothers did. And with that a hockey family was born!
One of her friends suggested that Wendy take up hockey herself. Reluctantly, she borrowed her son’s equipment and signed up for an adult class on hockey. Note: she didn’t even know how to skate yet! Next thing you know, she was invited her to play on the women’s league. She was a bit hesitant at first but she went ahead and tried out for the Frederick Firestorms—and made the cut. She didn’t really know anything about playing hockey when she started but she learned as she went along.
For the first few years she played with the women, in her son’s uniform because he was big enough. When he outgrew it, she acquired all his gear. After a few years she was asked to sub for her husband’s team and found out she really enjoyed playing with the men. Wendy says they are “bigger, faster, stronger, and more competitive.” And she loves the challenge of playing against the men!
Being a hockey mom takes dedication and was really hard, especially when the kids got to high school. Her husband also coaches and it was difficult to sit in the bleachers with other parents. So she took up the clock and the score sheet because it was awkward hearing comments about the coach. Wendy said it can be hard watching her kids play and get hit. It is harsh and scary to see them stay on the ice after a hard hit; but exciting and joyful to see them score. Her three kids played together on multiple teams in different divisions when they were younger and later played on one team in high school. Her daughter has gone on to play hockey in college at the University of Delaware.
For this hockey mom, there is really no life outside of hockey between the kids and playing with her husband. It’s a 30 minute ride from home to the rink, then time to change, play, and another 30 minutes back home. It takes commitment to live that schedule. When the kids were younger they would come in for the kids games first and drive them home after their game and return to play with the adults. They put a lot of miles on their cars. Thankfully they didn’t have to deal with early morning practices; however, with practices a 6 pm they did have to fight traffic up 270 to get there on time.
As it goes with many hockey players, Wendy was side-lined for a while with knee surgery as well as an accident that injured her back. But in true hockey player fashion—she came back to the game she loves. Much of that probably has to do with the real sense of community she has found with the Donkeys. She explained that the Donkeys are a strong community—like family. When their captain’s wife passed away last year, it brought the team even closer. People who quit the team wanted back on but they didn’t have room on the roster. On the day we visited they were hosting a charity tournament called Donkeys Kick Cancer with all the proceeds going to Klein Hospice. Klein House was there for their captain whose wife hospice supported when she took ill last year. It was such a relief for someone to come in and take care of her so family could focus on spending time with their wife and mother in her last days. This was their first charity tournament and as an incorporated team they plan for more such functions.
When describing the guys on the Donkey team, she said they are genuinely the best guys she has ever met. They are all honorable (and all datable)—really good guys. They would do anything for anyone at any time, no questions asked. As it goes, Wendy said all their friends are hockey friends—which are the best to have. We couldn’t agree with her more.