Hockey tournament in Ellenton this coming weekend, Feb. 4-6. It’s the Florida Women’s Hockey League state championships, actually.
I always anticipate a good hockey weekend—visualize the perfect plays and all the happy things that can happen on the ice, plus the off-ice camaraderie—but the responsibility for hosting a tournament falls to the home ice team. And in Ellenton, that’s us.
The ice has been secured for games about six months in advance, and the FWHL scheduling committee creates the game schedule. Technically the rink determines locker room assignments and hires certified referees—after all, out of everyone, it’s the rink that stands to make money—but someone’s gotta work with them to make sure league standards are met.
But then there’s the extra stuff, the opportunity to make a little cash for our own team to offset fees (which, let’s face it, ice time ain’t cheap). Plus, you just want to throw a good tournament, make an impression, show off that hard-fought legitimacy. This means canvassing for donations for player gift bags and raffle items, even Gatorade mix for bonus rehydration. It means ordering apparel and selling raffle tickets and running the check-in table. And it means generating a little PR, encouraging friends and family—and hopefully, someday, total strangers—to come out and add to the atmosphere. All this, in addition to, y’know, playing the games.
Me, BatGoalie and Mrs. Harrible, from a Style magazine article a few years back. Photo by Barbara Banks.
For the raffle, teammates come forward with gift baskets, bottles of wine, custom chocolates from generous neighbors. I’m particularly proud of our player gifts, which will feature coupons for the rink-adjacent Prime Outlets Ellenton. (Shopping is a fantastic way to kill time between games.) OT Sports Bar will give us some handouts so we can direct folks their way for the league party. For my favorite pet project, I’ve contacted some local nonprofits, and may again get a group of kids from Girls Inc., and possibly Big Brothers Big Sisters, to come and meet the team, try on some equipment and watch a bunch of grown-up women play hockey.
We even sent some press releases out, in the hopes of selling the spectator side. We still stand in awe of the grassroots PR the roller derby chicks generate. And though, for a lot of reasons spanning logistics to personal disorganization, we won’t be able to turn our tournament into the festival of a roller derby bout, it’s fun to test those marketing waters and dream of creating a “hometown team” kind of image. What fun, to have fans. But either way, we’ll have a blast. Care to join us?
Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex, Feb. 4 – 6
Ms Conduct C team games: Friday, 9 p.m.; Saturday, Feb. 5, noon, 6 p.m., 9 p.m.
Ms Conduct rec team games: Friday, 7 p.m.; Saturday, 9 a.m., 3 p.m., 5 p.m.
C division championship (teams TBA): Sunday, 11 a.m.
Rec division championship (teams TBA): Sunday, noon