Julie has been involved in helping organize Grey Hares from the very start, but before she joined, she’d never played hockey, and couldn’t skate backwards, never mind stop.
For Julie Strong, and many other Riverview women like her, Grey Hares Hockey has been a way to have a fun night out, while getting in some exercise and making new friends, all through hockey.
The Grey Hares welcome Riverview women 18+ of all skill levels to come and practice their skating and hockey skills, in a low-pressure environment. The name, Grey Hares, is a play on the kids jackrabbits hockey program, with the Grey Hares welcoming a wide range of ages, with their oldest current member at 62.
Most practices last about an hour, and consist of lessons on power skating, skill drills, and scrimmaging. On top of that, they go over how to skate and stick handle properly, rules of the game, and positional play.
From 8-9:00 pm every Monday, the Grey Hares meet to practice, and once a year, at the same time as the men’s 4×4 hockey tournament, the Grey hares hold a tournament of their own.
Six teams compete, and by the end of the day, the victors’ names are inscribed on the gold stiletto trophy featured in the display case in the community centre.
The first year of the tournament the teams were made entirely of Grey Hare’s members, but since then groups from other centres and friends have teamed up to join. The Grey Hares have yet to get their name on their own trophy, but remain hopeful.
One of Julie’s favourite memories of the Grey Hares was right before one such tournament when Angie Deneka roused everyone in the change room, egging them on. She describes Angie as one of the most spirited people you could meet, and credits her, along with Jen and Ryan Rolston, with starting the Grey Hares.
Even though she still sees herself as the worst player on the team, Julie says she definitely sees improvement in her skills, and remembers scoring the first goal in their 2017 exhibition game. She’s been a huge Jets and hockey fan all her life, and watched her daughter grow up playing hockey, so Grey Hares has been her chance to finally learn to play.
These days an average of about 10-16 players have been coming out to the weekly practices. Registration for regular players is $100 for the season, to help cover the cost of ice cleaning, but goalies play for free. For more information, or to register, visit https://riverviewcc.ca/sports/grey-hares/