SPORTS April 13th, 2008

By Andrew Rampersaud

Girls just want to have fun in new ball hockey league

After watching her 8-year-old son Maximilian play ice hockey, Stefanie Schaefler knew she wanted to get in on the action — even if she is terrible on skates.

That’s when she called Greg Tedesco, president of the North York Lynx Minor Ball Hockey league about forming the city’s first women’s division.

“I kind of chuckled at first,” Tedesco admitted later in a phone interview about starting the Lady Lynx ball hockey league. “Maybe I’m a little old-fashion. I just thought ball hockey is a sport for men and it’s not.”

The Lady Lynx are part of the Ontario Ball Hockey League, which also includes other centres like Belleville, Oshawa and Penetang.

“They’ve all started women’s leagues a few years ago and I just didn’t think we’d have enough women and I never thought of it until I got that phone call,” he said.

Schaefler values Tedesco’s doubt about forming a league, but her hard work paid off.

“I totally understood because I’ve tried to do things before and I know just when it comes to the commitment, not everyone backs it up,” said Schaefler who also plays tennis competitively. “Everyone is like ‘Oh that’s a great idea’ and then they just sort of don’t follow through.”

Once registration opened 50 women stormed the Broadlands Community Centre with even more registered electronically and by mail including some coming from as far away as Newmarket.

“I know that when I go home tonight or the mailbox, I’ll have a few more registrations at home or at the post office,” Tedesco said. “Out of five calls or emails that are sent to me, three are about the women’s ball hockey league.

“It really threw me off because I just didn’t expect it, I thought I’d start a men’s league before I started a women’s league.”

With about 120 players registered and a couple more on the waiting list, the turn out was a shock for Schaefler.

“I thought we’d sort of be able to just barely get four teams together, but now that’s it’s gone up, we have the potential for eight teams,” she said. “I heard a whole team signed by themselves — they call themselves the ‘Dolls with Balls’.”

With grit and gusto Schaefler will be suiting up for the Toronto Momma Leafs and wearing 99, her goalie son’s number.

The rules for the league will be based on the kids’ league, but Tedesco is unsure how it will work since many of the women signed-up will be holding a hockey stick for the first time.

“I’m hoping at least they can run … it’s outdoor, regulation-sized rink and that kind of scares me a little, because I don’t know if these women are in shape or not,” he said.

Most of the women Tedesco’s talked to say they want the same experience as the kids. That means pictures, trophies and sweaters but they don’t want anything to do with their husbands, even including Tedesco’s wife.

“Everybody’s been asking me (if I’ll signup) and all I can think of is me running down the rink hearing that whistle behind me and turning around and watching my husband, who’s refereeing, throw me out of the rink,” said Liina Kerk-Tedesco. “So I think to preserve our very happy 24-year marriage, I think it’s probably a good idea that I don’t.

“I can just imagine the really long, cold and silent rides home.”

But when it comes right down to it, these women ball hockey players are girls who just want to have fun.

“They want a league,” Greg Tedesco said. “They don’t want to just go into this rink and just sort of shoot the ball around.

“They want scores to be shown, they want standings and that’s the way we’re going to approach it.”

Lady Lynx games will be held Thursday’s starting April 17, with the last game of the season June 21.