Hockey, like football, generally isn’t considered a gay-friendly sport. With all the brutality on the ice, it takes a man’s man not only to get back up after being thrown into the wall by a 200-pound guy skating at full speed, but also the ability to do the same thing right back for three very long periods of endurance.
All that changed six years ago, when, according to Dan Hassett, “about three or four gay men got together, and decided to develop a gay and lesbian hockey league.”
That team, the Minnesota Aurora, played in the Adult Hockey Association (AHA). The Aurora, which consisted of about 20 men and women, was almost exclusively gay and lesbian. It only took a year for a second team to form.
After another two years of growth, the diversity started creating problems, as Hassett recalls: “Such diverse players didn’t mesh very well, so in the interest of the players, they decided to go independent of the Adult Hockey Association. That meant no longer being bound by league rules. We got to make decisions ourselves, instead of the AHA, and we ran our own shows.”
Thus, the Twin Cities Gay Hockey Association (TCGHA) came into being. It was a great thing for those involved. It meant no more games at 10 PM on Sunday nights, or 1 PM on Thursdays. TCGHA got to schedule games that were not only on better days, but also at better times for both the players involved and the fans who wanted to cheer on their favorite players.
“Teams are actually coming to play us, compared to having to play us. Now, we get to play at the University of Minnesota, among some of the best arenas in the state as well,” Hassett explains.
This year, because of its growth, TCGHA had three teams, one for each level of play: beginning, intermediate, and advanced.
Hassett finds TCGHA really unique. He doesn’t believe another gay sporting league can play independent teams.
As for the future, Hassett has big dreams: “We are a model for really good growth, but it all depends on the community interest.”
Hassett also is hoping to have a lesbian-only team to target the woman’s competitive league out there
“Right now, we have almost 50 players,” Hassett remarks, “I see the potential to go to four or five teams if we continue to grow our numbers, which would put us up there to have one of the largest leagues in the country.”
So, gay men do know how to be fierce competitors on the ice, yet accepting of all off it. With a game being played again this year during Pride, Hassett is hoping to get a prime time to play, so that more people can check out just how good the league is.
For more information on TCGHA, plus a schedule of games, visit www.tcgayhockey.org.