On Sunday nights around 9:15 p.m., you’ll likely see a group of women lacing up their hockey skates and sliding onto the ice at the Hippodrome Ice Arena—women you might expect to see spending their time behind the boards, cheering on the kids. They are the Hipp Chix, and they’re the moms who, 10 years ago, decided they could do more than cheer from the bleachers.
During a Squirt hockey moms’ night out in 2005, one mom, Rebecca Fletcher, told the group about some younger women who were skating at Tartan Arena in Oakdale, and suggested the moms play, too. “I had [recently] taken one of my sons skating and had done a crossover all by myself and was so proud,” Hipp Chix player Julie Anderson says. “Rebecca said, ‘If you can do a crossover, you need to skate with us.’ ”
A couple of the moms decided to try it out and loved it, so they decided to move the skating closer to home. They started out playing on Sunday nights at 10:30 p.m., Jane Peterson says. “It worked because our kids were in bed and we had no conflicts.”
And the team has grown. On those first few trips to Tartan, there were eight moms lacing up. When they brought it to the Hippodrome in 2006, 15 moms jumped on board. Now, “consistently we have 15 or 16 that show up every Sunday night,” Peterson says, but there are nearly 40 on the email list.
“It’s very fluid,” Anderson says. “Girls come and go,” based on how busy their lives are at that moment.
“It’s really just taken off and become a great camaraderie for all of us moms,” Peterson says. It’s so popular. There are a couple who don’t have kids and still skate with us.”
On those Sunday nights, the Hipp Chix show up a half-hour before skate time to get geared up, and to catch up. Once they’re on the ice, they have reversible jerseys they divvy up to decide teams. “It’s just pick-up hockey,” Peterson says. And then they start playing. “It’s such great exercise. We are literally dripping when we get off the rink.”
And when they get off the rink? They pack up and head to the bar for a Bloody Mary.
“Our skills have come along; we have fun with it,” Peterson says. “And we understand the game better, which makes it fun to watch our kids.”
Those “kids” who brought the moms together are now mostly in college, and their skills have surpassed the Hipp Chix. They used to have a kids’ night, where the moms would bring the boys to play on the ice with them. “It was so wonderful—so bonding. Then they started blowing us away!” says Peterson.
The cost to play is $100 for the season, but if you want to join for just a night, $10 will get you on the ice. And everyone is welcome, Peterson says, not just hockey moms. Keep in mind, however, that these women are competitive, and that injuries do happen.
“I broke my ankle one year,” Peterson says.” I ran into the boards.” There’s been more than one ankle injury, and a rotator cuff injury as well. Then there are the non-hockey-related ailments.
Two of the women on the team have survived cancer, and when they were enduring their battles, the team decided to take their talents off the ice and pull together philanthropically. So the group does cancer walks and participates in the White Bear Lake Polar Plunge every year.
The team was featured in Parents Magazine when they started playing 10 years ago, which got the attention of the Rachael Ray Show. The entire team was invited to New York City to be on the show. “The segment wasn’t on skating,” Peterson says. “It was more on the effects it has on your body.” Then, while enjoying New York City at a bar, they happened to run into the producer of the Today Show. He was fascinated by the group and told them they had to be on the show the next morning. “It was so fun,” Peterson says.
(Group and Rachael Ray photos courtesy of Jane Peterson: The team was invited to visit the Rachael Ray show in 2006. From left to right; Angie Olson, Jane Peterson, Christine Anderson, Jill Akenson, Stacey King, Rachael Ray, Julie Anderson, Kari Anderson and Shawn Illgen.)
It was a great adventure for a bunch of women who mostly had just learned how to play hockey.
Many of the women grew up taking figure skating lessons, but it’s quite a challenge to switch from figure skates to hockey skates. When you’re used to a toe-pick, there are a few slippery falls since you feel you’re on a rocking chair.
It helped to have family who knew how to skate hockey-style, even if they were hesitant at first. “I think they’re a little bit proud of me for doing it,” Peterson says. Her three sons play, and “it’s fun to talk about it with them. On Thanksgiving or Christmas, we’ll go skate together,” she says. “It’s another way for the family to do things together.”
The Hipp Chix season runs from November to March, and since most of the women are now in their 40s, staying in shape outside of those months is extremely important. One of the women is a tennis coach, so during the off-season some play tennis on Friday mornings at the Central Middle School courts.
It’s not just about a way to stay in shape, though. It’s about catching up with friends. “Even if it’s just 10 minutes and you get to talk to someone you haven’t seen in a couple months or a couple weeks,” Peterson says. “We all have so much in common with our kids.” And the group has been there for each other through all the ups and downs, including kids’ leaving for college and family illnesses.
“I love this group of women,” Anderson says. “You know that feeling you get when you’re with a special group like that? It’s coming home.”
Back row, l to r; Chris Casura, Cara Clampitt, Meg Sawyer, Noelle Valberg, Jayne Kurpius, Amy Mueller, Karyn Senden. Middle; Jill Womeldorff, Becca Fletcher, April Lyons, Christine Anderson, Jenny Atkinson, Maris Scheer, Melissa Olson, Staci Kroll, Jodi Meister. Front; Jill Akenson, Jane Peterson, Amy Carney, Julie Anderson and Kari Anderson.