The establishment of the NWHL has served as nothing short of a blessing in my life. I met my internet best friend at a Riveters vs Pride game on October 18th, 2015. Since then, I’ve attended seven games with each one being better than the last. I’ve also invested the majority of my money into buying merchandise to support the league. I currently own three jerseys, four shirseys, and one sweatshirt. I was so excited for opening weekend in Buffalo that I timed exactly how long it took my dad and I to travel there. Although the trip took seven hours, fifteen minutes and twenty-one seconds it was well worth the drive. Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact that Amanda Kessel is my favorite athlete – I’ve been a Minnesota Golden Gopher women’s hockey fan since the summer of 2013. After Amanda made her return to college hockey, it became a goal of mine to someday meet her. Thanks to the NWHL, my wish was able to come true on October 8th, 2016. Sporting a #8 Gopher jersey, and with a Kessel hockey card in hand, I was able to receive both a picture and an autograph from my all-time favorite athlete.
My favorite player/fan interaction has been with Anya Battaglino. Even before meeting her in January, she was one of my favorite players in the league. I recently presented a project on women’s equality in sports.
Ashley with Anya Battaglino, Amanda Kessel and Taylor Holze
I focused primarily on women’s hockey, and with the help of Anya it was quite successful. The topic could have been presented in any way, shape, or form as long as I got the point across. How many people can say they’ve had the opportunity to video chat with a professional hockey player? Instead of a boring powerpoint presentation, I had the opportunity to conduct a live Skype call in front of my twelfth grade English class. A ten question interview turned into a thirty minute conversation. I learned so much about Anya – both as a player and as a person – in such a short span of time. She’s the perfect role model for fans of the National Women’s Hockey League.
While in Buffalo, I also had the pleasure of meeting Taylor Holze, although I didn’t facilitate the meeting myself...
Halfway through the game, I noticed Taylor (not dressed to play) sitting a few rows over. Me being me, I didn’t want to go over there and bother her, so I texted my Riveters fan best friend and ranted to her about it. In the end, a screenshot of our conversation was sent to Taylor on Twitter with the caption “Hey @taytwofour the girl in the Gopher jersey near you wants to say hi but she needs a lil help.” Fortunately, Taylor saw the tweet and walked over to me after the period ended. “Your friend blew your cover,” she informed me. I left the game happily with both an autographed puck and a picture.
Through these experiences (as well as multiple others) I’ve been able to witness how amazing the NWHL truly is. So many memories have been made in the last two years, I can’t wait to see what the future has to hold. Thank you, NWHL!