Growing up in Kentucky, hockey is not on the extracurricular list of most kids. We don’t have anything against it, it just isn’t ingrained in our culture the way it is in most northern states. Availability is also a factor. There are only two places to skate in town and just one with any kind of organized leagues. So, hockey wasn’t even a thought for most of us, and skating, in general, was novelty recreation that we thought about during the holidays and not much more.
That was not the case for Sarah Hoover, who grew up in Vermont, where life is on the ice. Her father played at the University of Vermont and was so good they named the rink in her hometown after him. She learned to skate early and was out on the pond with her brothers or at the rink every chance she got. But, her winter sport of choice was figure skating because girls hockey leagues didn’t exist in her town. Down the road, at Dartmouth College, the women were rocking the rink, but there were very few girl leagues and zero adult women’s hockey opportunities. She would have played if there had been.
Fast forward to adulthood when Sarah, now a mother of three, found herself back on the ice, helping her son learn her beloved winter pastime. Someone noticed she was smooth on skates and suggested she try beginner adult hockey. Sarah and her husband decided to give it a whirl and signed up for the next session of the Never Ever League, a perfect place for anyone interested in exploring hockey as an adult. No experience is required. It’s a safe place to hone your skating skills, learn the rules, and make friends with other people out there trying something new.
Sarah loved her Never Ever League experience and moved on to join the newly formed adult women’s recreational league, the Hat Chicks. The league was the first of its kind in the state of Kentucky and is one of the only in the region. Founded by Denise Haney in 2013, the Hat Chicks is a league for women 18 and up, and everyone is welcome. Their youngest member is in her teens and the oldest is in her 60s, and they all feel like family. There is also a range of experience and every player is mindful of both helping newer members find their stride and rising to the challenge of the more experienced players’ drive. The Hat Chicks League gives its members a place to go to be active and build community with others who like some competition and a good time.
For those women who want to take the competition to the next level, a traveling club team was created, the Fighting Filies, and they hit the road to take on other women’s teams from Indianapolis to Cincinnati to Dayton and beyond. There is an annual tournament as well that each club hosts in rotation, bringing more women’s hockey enthusiasts to Louisville each time our turn comes around.
Sarah loves being part of both leagues and that love has grown into an opportunity to serve as Iceland Women’s Hockey Commissioner. We sat down with Sarah on this week’s episode of the #502LeaderSeries podcast to hear the full story and more about how to get connected if hockey is something you want to explore.
In addition to the Hat Chicks and Fighting Filies there are also several skill levels of men’s leagues offered throughout the year through Louisville Adult Hockey Players Association and youth leagues through Louisville Ice Cardinals Hockey Club and a high school league through Kentucky High School Hockey League. Check out the full league listings and how to sign up HERE! University of Louisville Hockey also plays at Iceland and spectators are always welcome!
After watching just one Hat Chicks game and chatting with some of the family and friends cheering them on, our interest is peaked and you just might find some Yes Louisville faces in the Never Ever League later this year!