Back in 2018, I was paid $250 to play hockey. No, it wasn’t on a professional tryout contract with a minor league team, but rather for a television commercial. That said, they would recruit practically anyone who owned hockey gear — including me, a guy who had been playing for less than five years at the time.
“Hockey is for everyone” is a wonderful message of inclusion and diversity from the NHL. While it is important that they lead the charge in this effort, there are many inclusive leagues throughout North America. The Madison Gay Hockey Association, in Madison, Wisconsin, is one such league. The MGHA makes sure everyone feels welcome and encouraged to join, regardless of their skill level or orientation.
Maggie Augustin works as the Member Relations Liaison for the MGHA. Being a leader wasn’t always in her blood, but playing hockey helped her discover more about herself than she ever imagined. I recently spoke with Maggie about her work with the MGHA and how hockey has helped forge her into a leader.
KYLE SCULLY: How long have you been a part of the organization?
MAGGIE AUGUSTIN: I have been a skater since fall of 2016. Before that, I had attended some games in the stands just to get a feel for the organization and hockey itself.
KS: What drew you to the league?
MA: My partner introduced me to the league. They said, this is what I do during the winter, it’s really fun and exciting, and it’s so much more than just a sport; it’s a community. So, they kind of put the bug in my ear and that’s why I started watching them play and getting a feel for it. I was 30 at the time and even though I’m athletic, I wasn’t sure I would like it. I had very little experience with hockey, and to me, everything looked so fast. I had no concept of positioning or anything like that, so I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to learn it.
I’ve been playing recreational hockey — or beer league, as many call it — for about six years now, and I’ve seen my share of crazy stuff. I recall one game being cancelled because the Zamboni broke down in the middle of the ice. Another time, I remember a guy getting kicked out of the game because he was trying to fight with his own teammate. But the craziest thing that has happened is when I had a teammate get up and quit playing on my team — in the middle of a game.