Amy Patricia and Geneviève Cheff are on a lesbian mission, a mission with a very Canadian tint: playing hockey at the Montreal Outgames.
Having assembled a team, they’re ready to take on the competition.
The women’s hockey team almost never happened. Luckily, Cheff surfed the net last October looking for information about Montreal Pride — and stumbled on the Outgames. Even then, she wasn’t sure that she could put together a team without having to qualify first.
“I inquired as to who was eligible to play, and it was pretty open,” Cheff says. “I’ve been playing hockey for about five years, and Amy’s been playing for about six or seven, and I decided that it would be interesting.”
Until this point, there was no official lesbian hockey team in Ottawa, despite there being a number of lesbians already active in the local hockey community.
“I’ve also built my own team within the ODWHA (Ottawa District Women’s Hockey Association) for the season, so I was in that mode of building teams,” Cheff says. “I decided to ask a few of the girls who were playing for my team, and Amy had her own team — I play in the Competitive A, she plays within the B/Double-B — so we decided that we should be able to form a team out of there.”
With the help of a Toronto group who let them sign on to their group discount on registration — something that a functional Team/Équipe could have helped with — it simply became a matter of getting the word out.
“The hardest part was finding people who can take a week off in the summertime,” Patricia says. “A lot of people are interested in participating in an event like that because there’s not much like it.”
The team’s players come from a variety of backgrounds, including police officers and a university professor, ranging in age from Cheff’s 24 years, to 40. “They’re a nice motley crew,” Patricia jokes. Patricia works as a chef at the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, while Cheff is finishing her university degree and will be a teacher come fall.
As it stands, the team is unsure about where they will be ranked by the organizers at the Outgames because of questions surrounding their experience level — all of the players have cumulative experience, but not much as a unified team. What they do know is that they will be playing four days out of the week’s events, and that most of their competition comes from North America.
Once the Outgames are over, the team’s future is up in the air. Both organizers have their respective teams, but as Patricia says, “we’ll see if the girls want to stick around and do other tournaments, and we’re always looking in other large-scale events to participate in.”
“But,” adds Cheff, “they’re our friends, right, so we always pick each other up to play in various tournaments here.”
Whether they continue to play together as a team, they are definitely looking to build on the momentum of the Outgames. There are no gay leagues in Ottawa, and neither is aware of a gay women’s league in Canada.
“I’d definitely like to see more large-scale [queer] sporting events in Canada that we can realistically participate in,” Patricia says. “It’s hard to travel, it’s hard to take time off work to travel far, so it would be nice to see more stuff in Ottawa.”