History of Alaska Divas

In 2005 the Kevin Bell Arena was built in Homer, Alaska. With a new indoor ice rink, playing adult women’s hockey became a possibility. Led by Leslie Slater, and with a bit of nagging and arm-twisting the original group of twelve players formed the Spit Sisters. Hesitation and apprehensiveness were overcome once this initial group got going and realized how much fun was in store. “I remember a humiliating game against the squirts.” (Leslie)

Labatts USA Classic in Anchorage was our first tournament ever in 2006, just seven short months after the team was formed.

Labatts USA Classic in Anchorage was our first tournament ever in 2006, just seven short months after the team was formed.

A business owner and hockey player, Chip Duggan, first sponsored jerseys for the Duggan’s Divas. He hung a photo on the wall of his pub with the original Divas striking a pose wearing only skates and jerseys. They were thinking about selling calendars to try to raise money for the rink. Their bold confidence built on itself and more hockey prospects came calling.

First Diva Group Pic

The Diva’s first group picture.

Elliot Jackson was their first coach. “We didn’t learn hockey skills – passing, shooting yet. But we learned how to stay upright, stop on both sides and go over the boards. We were also in the best shape of our lives from all of those suicides!!!” (Emily)

The first Labatt’s USA Tournament they played in Anchorage was memorable. “We somehow scored a goal! Everyone celebrated so much. We cleared the benches. The referee didn’t know what was going on and gave us a stern warning to stay on the bench. We lost like 12-1.” (Emily)

Just getting a shot on goal or making a play would get the bench excited. We would lose, and still have fun. “We thought we were playing hockey then, but we really weren’t.” (Sherry)

Dan Coyle wrote an article in the New York Times and made a video about his wife, Jen’s, obsession with hockey. He mentions the original Spit Sisters and Divas.

This is the video that Diva Ingrid’s partner George helped make:

As more women joined the team and skills improved, we miraculously won our first novice tournament in December of 2007 at the Palmer C-cup. By the time of the tournament, the 12 player roster had dwindled to 8. We didn’t think we had a chance of winning, so we concentrated on having fun and passing a lot. The temperature in Palmer was minus 20 F, and one of the Divas even slept in her truck so she could play. To our surprise our strategy worked, and we had our first ever tournament win under our belts.

The team went on to play their first Fools on Ice Tournament in 2007, coached by Elliot Jackson. “We felt a little like the Bad News Bears – a team with little talent and a loud, obnoxious coach. That year we realized that even if you can’t win games you can still win the party, and it was decided that the following year we would wear costumes.” ~Emily

Still growing, over the winter we would have up to 60 women playing. At one point Ingrid told Buck after a bring a friend to hockey (BAFTH) night: “It is amazing; there are even more women who want to play. We can’t find them all gear….”

In 2009 the Divas had enough women to bring two teams to the Fools on Ice tournament. The theme that year was Super heroes. We donned green capes on the ice and that power brought one of the teams our first Fools on Ice Championship in the novice division.

womens adult recreational hockey skillsThe Divas continued to improve their game on the ice, and the efforts to concentrate on skills and drills was apparent as the Divas continued to move up levels in the tournaments. There was passing, there was shooting, and there were plays being made. We had come a long way.

By 2012, the team’s roster was at 50+ awesome women. We overwhelmed the Fools on Ice committee by bringing 3 team to the tournament. We continued to do so in 2013 and have 3 teams registered for 2014. And how can you NOT win the party with 40 Divas wearing costumes?!

The Diva program has greatly impacted the lives of many women in Homer. It’s not just about hockey, it’s about friendships, camaraderie, and fun. Some of the most memorable moments of the past 9 years have happened in the locker room. The Diva team has a special bond that for the current players will last for a lifetime. The Diva program has also established strong traditions that will be passed down for years to come. It really is something special we have here. And every single one of us knows it.