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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Hockey season is underway and it’s one of the most popular sports in Minnesota. Now, more and more women are joining the sport.
Would you believe that there’s a hockey group in Minnesota with women only, ages 18 to 69 that has more than 1,500 members? The Women’s Hockey Association of Minnesota recently took WCCO out on the ice to show just how easy it can be to pick up this sport.
The Women’s Hockey Association of Minnesota, or WHAM, is the biggest hockey association in the country for women.
It’s open to women of any age. Everybody plays — one woman even started playing in her 40s and is now in her early 50s. The group does its best to match players on teams both in age and playing ability.
It has more than 1,500 women players of all ages and skill levels.
“I couldn’t skate at all when I started. How long ago was that? Five years ago at age 46, I started playing hockey,” said Beth Chaplain, the vice president for WHAM. “I had some former soccer teammates who started playing hockey. I thought they were crazy. They approached me. They needed a goalie. I said, I can’t skate, but i’ll try it and I was hooked. First time out on the ice, I was completely hooked.”
WHAM is gearing up for the start of their season that runs November through March. But this weekend they are dedicating their time to a fundraising tournament called Shut Out HIV.
“We are passionate about the HIV community, so we combined those two things and started this tournament to raise money for people with HIV,” said Chaplain.
Mark Horvath has played hockey his whole life but is connected to the tournament in another, more personal way. He was diagnosed with HIV in 2004. This tournament has become one of his greatest outlets.
“It’s where I combine my greatest passion, which is hockey, along with one of my most difficult times. It’s a chance for me to give back,” Horvath said.
Horvath said there are very few sports that you can join at any point in life, but hockey is one of them.
“Some of us newer ones, we aren’t the greatest skaters but we know hockey, we know the rules and we are competitive,” said Chris Larson with WHAM.
The Shut Out HIV Hockey Tournament takes place at the Schwan Super Rink in Blaine Saturday and Sunday, with all of the proceeds going to HIV charities.