Homer Alaska - Sports

Story last updated at 6:05 PM on Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Divas make warm return to the ice

Women of all ages, abilities find fun, friends playing hockey at Kevin Bell Arena

By Hannah Heimbuch
For the Homer News

Among the skaters making strides across the fresh ice in Kevin Bell Arena this month are the Divas — the Homer women's hockey league. Early registration has upwards of 35 women signed up to play the 2011-2012 season, with additional drop-in players likely to show up throughout the season.

This group has more than doubled since first hitting the ice in 2005. Leslie Slater, who has 30 years of hockey under her belt, has been there since the beginning. Like the other 28 women who showed for last Thursday's first practice, she was excited to be back on skates.

"There are so many things to be appreciative about and look forward to — like being back with a group of really fun, hard-playing women," said Slater.

Part of the early season fun in Divas' hockey is getting potential new members on the ice, an opportunity open to all skill levels. The Divas are nothing if not diverse — in age, occupation, ability and more. A few of the players have been on ice since they were pint-sized, but many first ventured into hockey as adults. Some of the slickest skaters among them will be the first to recount their not-so-distant memories of clinging to the rink walls.

Nyla Lightcap and Dana Fraley are just a few of last year's new skaters, but they're in it for the long haul.

"It sounded like fun," said Lightcap, grinning at her pal, Dana. "I saw something that said 'Bring a Friend to Hockey Night.' I said 'heck yeah!' So we brought each other."

Bring-a-friend night is when the Divas drag their girlfriends, family members, co-workers and acquaintances to the rink, dress them up in their hockey pads and convince them to play women's hockey. This year's bring-a-friend fete is from 7 to 10 p.m. Saturday, and as Lightcap pointed out, you don't actually need to have a hockey friend to go.

There will be gear to borrow, some veteran Divas introducing skating basics and plenty of women to talk hockey with. This includes high school teacher Vicki Lowe, official ambassador of bring-a-friend night. She started playing five years ago when Kevin Bell, the father of a former student, found out she was a mom of four boys.

"He basically said, 'meet me at the rink,'" said Lowe.

She's been on the ice ever since, and always keeps an eye out for new skaters.

Highlights to look forward to this season include the women's tournament hosted by the Homer league, the January Jamboree. The Divas, who are sponsored by Beluga Lake Lodge, Homer's Jeans and the Salty Dawg, also plan to hold more scrimmages with Soldotna's emerging women's hockey team, the Alaska Ambush.

Divas' league practices this season will be Thursday and Sunday evenings, and require registration with USA Hockey and Homer Hockey Association. Many of the women also participate in Monday evening power skating, which anyone can participate in for a drop-in fee.

For more information on joining women's hockey contact Vicki Lowe at (907) 299-3360, or email her at hockeytalk@rocketmail.com.

Hannah Heimbuch plays hockey with the Divas.