LUG introduces women’s recreational hockey league

Campus sports league touted first of its kind as they prepare for inaugural season

Rachel Italiano is the LUG’s women’s hockey league’s commissioner.
Rachel Italiano is the LUG’s women’s hockey league’s commissioner.
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Rachel Italiano remembers the first time she went looking for an all-girls hockey league at Queen’s.

“I went up to LUG at the sidewalk sale and I was, like, ‘Oh no, it’s only men’s hockey,’” Italiano, Comm ’19, said in an interview.

For her, it was the moment she realized she wouldn’t be playing hockey at university. After growing up on the rink throughout her childhood, Italiano thought she was giving up the sport for the next four years.

“[I] didn’t really have the resources and didn’t know what was out there or what to look for,” she said.

This year, that’s about to change—and not just for Italiano, but all female students looking for recreational hockey. LUG, a private student-run intramural league, active on numerous Canadian campuses, is officially introducing their first all-female competitive hockey league in Kingston and Ottawa.

Italiano is the commissioner of Kingston’s affiliate women’s league. Offered to all Queen’s students, the league is aiming to fill four teams with 16 players apiece. Each team will play 16 games, with the season spanning from mid-October to March. 

Since LUG was introduced at Queen’s in 2009, they’ve run extensive men’s hockey leagues that include an end-of-year banquet, customized team jerseys and weekly ice time. It was only last year the league decided to attempt to pull together a women’s league. LUG placed Italiano in charge of organizing the operation.

Now ready for its inaugural season, Italiano said it was an important project for her considering her past experiences trying to find women’s hockey leagues.

“It’s good for [women hockey players] to have someone fully advocating for them,” Italiano said, explaining hockey’s rise in popularity among women in Canada. The fourth-year added, despite this increase, women are still experiencing a lack of opportunities to continue playing the sport past high school.

“It just fully cuts off, [and] it’s hard to stay motivated.”

While Queen’s does offer intramural hockey on campus, Italiano said it lacks the community, outreach, and organization to entice first-years to come out—something LUG is hoping to do with its league.

“The big push has been our outreach and actually finding these girls,” she said. 

Once the women’s league finds its required number of players, it’ll work as the men’s does every year—consistently and smoothly.

“I think once we get that first year going, it’ll just continue,” Italiano said. “Girls hockey is getting more and more popular, so it’ll be easier and easier to find players.”

LUG’s season officially kicks off on Oct. 15, with registration closing on Oct. 12. With the first puck drop fast approaching,  Italiano said she’s eager to provide a memorable experience for all women hockey players on campus.

“I’m so excited. The girls will be really happy with it.”

 

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