The lights come up on the players as they skate around in circles. The pep band launches into the rouser. Not the regular pep band, but the women’s athletics pep band. Their version is equally awe-inspiring.
I look up at the roof of Ridder Arena and banners fall like beacons of dominance: back-to-back national championships, 2004-2005. WCHA Champions, both regular season and tournament. Champions of the world, really. I hear a guy behind me brag about how five former and current members of the team were selected to represent the U.S. in the 2006 Winter Olympics.
“M-I-N-N-E-S-O-T-A,” the crowd chants in unison. The players line up for the face-off. Minnesota takes quick control of the puck and passes into its opponent’s end. A shot on goal. Miss. Andrea Nichols shoots a one-timer off the rebound. Goal!
Damn, this team is good. And to think, they lost all their great players to graduation or the Olympics. I take a look at my program and see the national rankings: #4 Minnesota, Wisconsin #2 and Minnesota-Duluth #3.
“Those are our two biggest rivals,” I think to myself. I can’t believe that I’ve never come to a game before or even followed their dominance closely.
The band launches into the rouser once again as the Gophers take a 2-0 lead. As I look out to see the bowl of Maroon and Gold clapping and singing in unison, it dawns on me: I need to be a women’s hockey player for Halloween.
I lunge from my seat and leave the arena with great haste. The nearest Gold Country is still open, and I make my purchase: A #5 women’s hockey jersey, a mini hockey stick and a Gopher hockey helmet with white bars covering the face.
Halloween arrives and I prepare, alone in my bedroom. I put on the shirt, and stuff my shoulders with newspaper. I pull my maroon shorts over white tights and put my helmet on. The man in the mirror looks back at me, a smile is seen through the white bars.
“I’m ready,” I say. “This is the best Halloween costume ever.” I yell for my roommates to come.
“You’re a fucking hockey player?” Sam asks, holding a beer.
“Not just any hockey player, a women’s hockey player.”
“Nice. Ready to go to the party?” Sam is dressed in a Hamburglar outfit. We leave the house and walk down a dark street. The street light overhead flickers and goes out, leaving us in complete darkness.
“Nice costume,” a man shouts from his porch. I don’t know if he’s talking about Sam or me. But I assume he’s a die-hard women’s hockey player fan and is showing his appreciation for the team by complimenting my costume.
“Thanks,” I reply.
“I think he was talking about my costume,” Sam chirps. He would think that. He’s just jealous that I thought about dressing as a women’s hockey player before he did.
We get to the party and hordes of princesses, doctors, and Turkish invaders flood the family room. “Ha,” I think. “Same costumes every year.”
“Hey look,” a man in a toga shouts. “He’s a hockey players.” He laughs. “That’s cool dude.”
“Not just any hockey player,” I reply. “A women’s hockey player.” He drops his beer on the ground as he looks at me with a confused face. I reach down to pick up his beer before it makes too big of a mess. “You know,” I continue. “The women’s hockey team. They just won back-to-back national championships.” He grabs the beer out of my hand and walks away.
I glance around to see where the keg is. “Hey,” I hear a woman shout. “You’re a hockey player.” I turn and see a short gal dressed in a jaws costume.
“I’m actually a woman hockey player,” I say.
“What?” She stays silent for a few beats, then laughs. “Oh, haha, yeah. I get it.”
“Huh? There’s nothing to get. I’m dressed as a women’s hockey player.”
“We have a women’s hockey team?”
“Yes! They just won two god-damned national championships back-to-back!” My voice carries into the entire room, and several guests turn to see me. “I’m number five! I’m Chelsey Brodt! I’m a freaking co-captain!” A man dressed as a clown turns the music louder to drown me out.
I leave the party and wonder: what the fuck is wrong with our campus?