For Tammy Champion, hockey is more than a sport. It is a way of life.
How did you get started playing hockey?
I was pretty much born into hockey. Not only was I born in Canada, I was born on an island in Canada. Prince Edward Island is surrounded by the North Atlantic Ocean and laced with rivers which are frozen for many months each year. My family shoveled natural hockey rinks on the river that ran next to my house.
What attracted you to the sport?
It was a family past-time. I looked up to my six older brothers, all of whom played hockey. Once I was able to walk, my brothers would bundle me up in my snowsuit and pull me on a sled down to the river to watch them play hockey. As a kid I was made to stand in the goal until I learned to skate well. If I didn’t stop the puck, I had to skate down-river to retrieve it. Consequently, I learned to skate pretty quickly. I also was very driven to keep up with my brothers and play as well as they did. Fortunately, my community had a girls’ minor hockey team, which I joined when I was 14. That was my first exposure to an organized hockey league.
Any especially memorable moments on the ice?
I have played a lot of hockey in my life, and I’ve been a part of many great teams. I am currently a coach and mentor/player for the Madison Gay Hockey Association (MGHA) where I get to watch new players have their first memorable moments. It is exciting to be on the ice when someone gets their first goal or catches their first great pass or makes their first great play or wins their first game.
What teams are you playing with currently?
I play with the Madison Lightning, a recreational team in the Women’s Central Hockey League, and the MGHA.
Any advice for someone thinking about starting to play?
1. Don’t waste your money on expensive gear at first. A goal off the $10 stick counts the same as one off the $200 stick. 2. All hockey skates are going to hurt your feet in the beginning—with time they will become like your favorite pair of sneakers that you don’t want to get rid of. 3. Falling is a good thing. If you’re not falling, you’re not trying hard enough. 4. The more you play, the better you become. 5. It is a team sport – choose the play that makes your teammate look good.
6. I say go for it. To me, it’s the best of all sports.