Tammy: London Royals Hockey
I found my hockey heaven with the London Royals
Back in Chilliwack, a small town an hour from Vancouver, I played Hockey from the age of twelve and all through High School. I also played many different sports including ice hockey. Then there was a long gap before I joined the East London team where I played for about fifteen years. I have been with The London Royals, for the last eleven years playing mixed and tournament hockey.
When East London got promoted to a higher league I couldn’t commit to training as much. My friend, one of the originators of the Royals, got me to come join their mixed team. We’ve slowly built the club over the years and have got a very multi-national group. Our youngest player is about twenty-one and we have someone older than me, surprisingly. She will be sixty this year though most of the club members are in their thirties and a few in their forties.
I feel happier being in LGBT club as it is a very friendly group of men and women and there’s a lot of social things going on. I’ve met so many amazing people from all over the world here and found there are people in jobs, which I never considered when I was younger, doing amazing things with their lives. It’s just a very happy social group of people.
I enjoy going to the LGBT tournaments. We were in Amsterdam last year, Berlin the year before and Cologne. The boys went to Miami last year and we’re all going to Paris – it’s the big Gay Games this year. We’ve got about a hundred going all travelling together as a group. It’s the first time we’ve done that. The European tournaments are all LGBT – we’ve got Pink Hockey http://www.pinkhockey.com/ a world-wide federation of Gay and Lesbian Hockey players.
London Royals is the first team I’ve played with that I feel truly comfortable. I can just be who I am and relax. You’re not going to get some weird comment about your life and you can join in all the conversations as you all understand where you’re coming from. I’ve played on straight teams back home in Canada and would catch the odd snide comments and I think, ‘Oh that’s me they are talking about,’ but I never felt I could say anything. I don’t get that now and it’s lovely hanging out with the guys as well, because they are all very sweet. I never used to hang out with a lot of gay men because it’s not something that happens naturally.
Being older in the club, I’ve got a lot of experience – I’ve done a lot of sports and I’m not a bad player. I try to lead positively as well and I think the others appreciate that. They like that I’m not going to say ‘You’re shit or bad’ I say, ‘Come on you can try’. Last month, we got five new girls. I’ve got the patience to teach someone how to hold a stick and some of the basics. I spend time with the really newbies and try to teach them because I want to encourage everyone to do sports.
Now that we’ve enough women players, we’re able to enter a team in the Essex League. We’ve got some really good players, newbies and everyone in between. We are in the lowest division this year and we are hoping to move up next season. We are really kicking butt pretty good this year, next year may not be quite so easy. Playing at this level has given an opportunity for new players to develop and grow in confidence. With the extra games, our new girls who joined in the last year and half are playing so much better. It’s been fantastic.
We like being ‘the’ LGBT team in the league and we’ve had some great responses. On our first game, the team we played gave us a bottle of Prosecco and said ‘congratulations and welcome to the League’. Mind you we’d just beat them 10 nil.
I would say to over fifties who want to get fit, just come and see what you think. Do any sport really, just try it, you will find one that you like and people will be so helpful and encouraging. There’s also walking hockey I think it will be a brilliant way to get people in. I have a friend who is ten years older than me and she attempted to play, but it wasn’t for her. I think she really would like to do the Walking Hockey. I’m going to try and get anyone over fifty I know to come out and give it a go – see if they can actually run, not just walk. Anything will get you fit if you are moving. Over fifties especially because bone density starts to fade. You’ve got to keep moving to keep up the bone density, especially for women. Sport’s good for you all round and you get to meet great people.
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Design for Out and Active by Laura Salisbury; Photographs by Alex Grace; Champion Interviews by Christopher Preston
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