Badgers celebrate 20th anniversary
The Brock Badgers women’s hockey team opens its 20th season Saturday with an anniversary celebration at the Seymour-Hannah Sports and Entertainment Centre.
The Badgers will open the 2017-18 Ontario University Athletics regular season with a 3:15 p.m. game against the Queen’s Gaels. Before the game, the team will honour its history and welcome back many of the players who have worn the Badgers logo over the years.
“It has been 20 years since a number of former students worked tirelessly and selflessly to form the very first women’s hockey team at Brock. Saturday’s festivities are a small way to recognize these efforts and to unite the generations of Brock women’s hockey players through the ages,” said Brock women’s hockey head coach and former Olympian Margot Page. “Every year we have a lot of proud Badgers coming back to celebrate our women’s hockey alumni weekend, but this Saturday is pretty special.”
The program, started by Brock alumnus Todd Erskine, has made major strides over the past 20 years. The team has had many talented players go through the program such as former Brock Female Athlete of the Year, Sarah Brooks, who will be recognized Saturday with the Badger of Honour Award. The award was first handed out last year to former team captain Steph Allen.
Brooks called it an honour and a privilege to be part of the program.
“As we celebrate 20 years, we must reflect upon the countless hours that our volunteers and original members dedicated to the organization, implementation and continued success of the program,” she said. “Thank you to all of our supporters — from Brock Athletics, original community sponsors and our family and friends for believing in us and giving us this incredible opportunity to represent you in a sport we love.”
Erskine has many fond memories of the program as well, particularly considering its humble beginnings which saw the Badgers register as a club team before achieving varsity status for the 2000-2001 season.
The early years of the team were anything but stable. With no permanent home, practices and games would be held wherever ice time could be found. The team often played a home game on Super Bowl Sunday at the Welland Arena since the ice was generally available that night.
“Those building years as a club team and forming into a varsity team would not have been possible for the incredible resiliency of all the ladies involved and the path that they started for this program,” said Erskine, now an assistant manager of athletics at Conestoga College.
Erskine was quick to praise former women’s basketball coach and current assistant athletic director Chris Critelli for her help.
“We gained a great supporter in Chris. She was a champion for our cause and would be a great mentor for launching the program.”
Erskine is also grateful to long time volunteer coach Sandy Staniforth.
“From the start of the program her dedication, commitment and passion we would not have gotten to varsity status without her involvement. I am truly fortunate and thankful to all that helped form Brock women’s hockey and that the legacy continues.”
Other standout players that have come through the program include former CIS Player of the Year Kate Allgood and CIS-All Canadians Beth Clause, Kelly Walker and Jessica Fickel (BSc ’14).
Annie Berg, a recent member of the Under-18 Canadian National Team who heads into her second year with the Badgers, said she’s hoping this year’s team can honour its history with a successful season.
“It’s exciting to see how far the program has come in the past 20 years and amazing to honour those who paved the way before us in the program to make women’s hockey at Brock what it is today,” Berg said.
As part of the 20th anniversary celebration, all Brock women’s hockey alumni have been invited to a reunion scrimmage at 1 p.m. and a reception at 1:45 p.m., both taking place at the Seymour-Hannah Centre.