One last skate – celebrating womens hockey at ‘The Barn’

by | Apr 23, 2024

How the 2024 Ladies Hockey Celebration came together in Hartland

By Dana Stokoe, Hartland Recreation Program Coordinator

As acting recreation director, in early February I was tasked with putting together activities and events for “The Closing of the Barn Celebration” as we prepare for the demolition of the Hartland Arena.

One of the events I came up with was a ladies’ hockey tournament. I contacted a friend, Natalie Hemphill, whom I knew had been involved with the local ladies’ team since the 1990s. Natalie loved the idea and discussed it with her Ladies’ Panther team. Her team thought it was a wonderful idea and suggested we mix the present female hockey players with the alumni.

With the help of Kelsey Kennedy, who assembled a team of Woodstock area females, we formed a three-team round-robin tournament. The tournament occurred at the Hartland Arena as part of “The Closing of the Barn Celebration” on March 24. 

The teams were the Black Panthers, coached by Natalie; the Grey Panthers, coached by Jill Dunnett; and the White Panthers, coached by Alex Schriver and Jeremy Kennedy.

With the growth of women’s athletics in the world today, I thought our local female hockey players deserved an opportunity to showcase their skills in a competitive environment to our community. As the tournament was being played, I observed it was more than a showcase of skill. What I saw was friendship, sportsmanship, and the growth of relationships developed between the different age groups.

Lastly, on the day of the tournament, we were hit by a huge snowstorm, but this did not deter these amazing women. With only a minor schedule delay, the tournament still had a huge turnout. I could not help but admire the commitment and dedication of these female athletes to making this event the success it turned out to be.

Thanks to our sponsors: Heritage Construction Services, Bird’s Hill Wagyu, Hudson Jewelry, Hartland Freshmart, and our referee, Travis McBride.

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