The Lady Huskies

If you haven’t heard of us, it’s about time you did!

By Kristen Nixon

Many areas know Durham for their success in hockey; most would even claim Durham is a community built on the sport. But what many don’t think about when they connect Durham to hockey, are the exceptional female players that reside in this very small town. 

Durham, like many small towns, was not an outlet for young female players to excel in the sport. As I’m sure, many young women and their families can attest to playing boys hockey from a young age. They won’t forget driving far distances for a competitive girl’s hockey program that would catapult their opportunities for the future.  This is a core memory, I, and many others have growing up; playing boys hockey as one of the only girls on the team, up until transitioning to bantam and finally being required to make the switch to girls hockey. 

This was not just my story, but the reality of many girls in this area who wanted to pursue a successful career in competitive hockey. Many of us would try out for the boy’s teams, dress alone in makeshift dressing rooms like closets and tiny lockers.  It was a sacrifice girls in small towns had to make because the opportunity to play competitively in adequate girls programs was just not an option or a priority.  

Not so long ago, the only option available to competitive hockey for girls was joining a boys’ team!

Now consider those same female athletes who went off to play for the provincial women’s hockey league, D1, D2, and D3 for NCAA programs in the States, the OUA, or travelled across the world to compete in the European leagues. Durham has these exceptional hockey players who have travelled far and wide making a name for themselves and this town, playing high-end college hockey, only for them to come home to what? When we review the multitude of opportunities men have when they finish their respective hockey careers, we know they have options to continue playing the game they love. Women coming home after their junior/university hockey careers ultimately had nothing, and that is a sad but accurate reflection of how women’s hockey has been prioritized over the course of our lives. 

But this was not going to be our future; this was going to be Durham’s past. I knew this was ultimately an opportunity for growth, awareness, and acknowledgment. I knew there were a number of girls living back in this area with no true outlet to compete in the game they grew up playing and loving; and in that moment, a revolution for the Durham Lady Huskies was born. 

There was so much talent waiting to be reignited, and so much opportunity to educate a small town on what girls’ hockey has become. It was an opportunity many girls have never had, to play in a competitive league without having to travel over an hour away. Friends, families, sponsors, and new faces and fans would get to attend home games and be a part of history. The Durham Lady Huskies was created with pride and passion; to give women an outlet to keep playing the game they love and play it at the high level they’ve always known. To show our community the talent that lies within these young women, and to give future girls an opportunity to continue playing the game when they finish their hockey careers. 

Lady Huskies go from last to first in three short years!

In 2017, the team was founded and created and entered into the South Ontario Women’s Hockey league (SOWHL). It consisted of multiple hometown girls, and girls from surrounding areas who hadn’t played for quite some time. Our team was new and excited, and we may have lost most games that year but it was just the beginning. 

Three years after our first season, we finished first in the league overall. Durham won the championship in our playoffs, and went on to the Provincial Championships in Toronto winning silver. The Durham Lady Huskies have since  won gold at the London Fall Classic Championship, gold at the St. Catherine’s tournament, Consolation Champions at the Brampton Cougars Friendship Festival, and went on to win another silver in the most recent Provincial Championship for the Senior BB Women’s division. We have created a team of outstanding players who exemplify talent, pride, and determination, with a common love for the game we grew up playing. 

Durham truly is a hockey town and to be able to expand on the sport’s meaning to our town by creating this team is something to be talked about. Women’s hockey is the future and I knew this opportunity would grow into a success story because of the exceptional hockey players who chose to come home to Durham. The Lady Huskies are just one example of what women’s hockey can and should be, for all small town communities. It provides young girls an outlet to compete when they are older and still passionate about the game! 

Thank you to all members of our hockey-loving community, who have helped make our team what it is today; we can’t wait for the future of the Huskies to keep growing in momentum and success because of young female players who pursued their dreams,  chose to call Durham home again, and chose to become a Huskie.

The hard work has paid off: Photos courtesy of Kristen Nixon