For over 20 years, the Fernie Hustlers hockey team has been lacing up skates and taping up sticks. The team is one of two women’s hockey teams based in Fernie.
The team was founded by a group of women who worked at Fernie Alpine Resort at the time.
“It was when the Fernie vs. Kimberley ski hill men’s team used to play against each other every year. I don’t know if they do it anymore, but that is how we started,” said Deb Harris, one of the original members on the team. “We would go on the bus trip and we would go watch the men play and then we decided, well why can’t women play too right, and why can’t women have a team. So we just started that way.”
The ladies’ started playing during the intermission of the men’s games. After one game, they decided to rent ice time and begin official practices.
Now the team has roughly 40 ladies participating in the club. Usually half of the team is on the roster for practices, games and tournaments. As Harris explained, most members of the team have other commitments, including jobs and children.
“The youngest player might be 20 and the oldest play might be 52,” said Harris.
The team plays against other teams in the area, including Sparwood, Pincher Creek and Cranbrook and tries to play at least once a month.
“In the winter we try to go to a tournament once a month,” said Harris. “We go to at least three to four tournaments a season.”
The Hustler’s season begins in September and lasts until mid-April. The team hosts practices once a week, on Thursday evenings at the Fernie Memorial Arena, and play at an intermediate level.
“There is also a beginners team, but they practice on Sunday mornings, called the Fernie Snowcats, and I think they have at least 20 girls as well. We are sort of intermediate to advance and they’re more beginning, intermediate,” said Harris.
The Hustlers are sponsored by the Northern Bar and Stage, who have supported them with funding for jerseys and with après practice refreshments. The team charges $10 per drop in practice or $200 for the season to help pay for ice rental.
Harris said the team is filled with fun ladies who just enjoy the sport of hockey. Anyone looking for more information on how to get involved with the Hustlers can email Deb Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org.