‘I’ve never felt so seen or known before’ say PHF fans after Riveters’ Pride celebration — Allie Morse chats Whitecaps, goalie gear, and more — Must-click women’s hockey links

The IX: Hockey Friday with Anne Tokarski, March 4, 2022

Happy Hockey Friday! Let’s take you inside the Riveters’ Pride Night.

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According to SB Nation’s Outsports, the gold medal-winning Canadian women’s national hockey team had a record seven out LGBT+ athletes — the most of any Olympic squad, ever (source). From 2021 Worlds MVP Mélodie Daoust to 2020 Cornell graduate and first-time Olympian Micah Zandee-Hart, Canada’s team was filled with athletes in same-sex relationships. Perhaps most notably, Team Canada alumnae Caroline Ouellette and Gillian Apps are married to former (and maybe current, during international competitions) American rivals Julie Chu and Meghan Duggan, respectively.

It’s a similar situation on the domestic stage in the PHF, where two of the league’s largest names — former Connecticut Whale defender and current Metropolitan Riveters general manager Anya Battaglino and Riveters captain Madison Packer — are married to each other. (Editor’s note: Anya is a member of The IX’s Advisory Board.) They’re just two of a number of publicly out LGBTQ+ athletes in the PHF, and their authenticity and advocacy is just one of the reasons that the Riveters’ annual Pride Night is such a hit.

This past Sunday, the organization hosted one such night: a full-scale celebration complete with specialty uniforms, auctions to benefit national charities, and, of course, hockey. The IX sat down with a number of people associated with the Riveters, from front office staff to players to fans, to chat about the team’s Pride Night.

“Pride celebrations are so important,” says Jess Belmosto, the team’s PR and fan communications specialist. “Celebrating marginalized groups and welcoming them with open arms is important but it’s also a matter of putting action behind those words.”

Action like the Riveters’ auction of game-worn jerseys and socks, the proceeds of which are going to the National Center for Transgender Equality, and the Pride merchandise collection the organization plans to launch soon.

“When you have a platform the way the Riveters do, you have to think about how you can do your part,” Belmosto says.

And while part of that platform is celebrating the resilience of LGBTQ+ fans and athletes, another part of using that platform is speaking up for marginalized fans. Over the weekend, Riveters captain Packer and teammate Nora Maclaine both took to social media to share their own experiences as members of the LGBTQ+ community in hockey and advocate for greater acceptance not just for same-sex relationships, but for trans inclusion in sports too.

“LGBTQIA+ youth deserve to feel safe, valued, and equal,” said Packer in a statement posted to the Riveters social accounts on Sunday, referencing the recent legislation against transgender athletes in states like Florida and Texas as reasoning for her words. “Protect them. Fight for them. Like someone fought for us.”

Packer’s words resonated with many fans across the PHF, including Riveters supporters Dee and Iris, who spoke to The IX following their team’s Pride celebration this past weekend.

“Growing up as a queer sports fan, I think I’ve just taken it for granted that people like me will be pushed to the side and left out of the conversation,” says Dee. “To see a team work so hard to include us and celebrate our contributions to the sport in such a beautiful way really is so wonderful.”

“I’ve never felt so seen or known before, because in other leagues or sports, pride is like a sticker they take off once July starts. It’s like we only matter sometimes,” adds Iris. “With the Riveters and the PHF, [the LGBTQ+ community] mattes all the time.”

This Week in Women’s Hockey

Sarah Nurse’s Olympic masterpiece by the numbers (The Ice Garden)

Blake Bolden partners with AHL’s Cleveland Monsters for all-girls hockey clinic (Cleveland Monsters)

Riveters’ Black Rosie jersey a step in the right direction (The Hockey News)

Buckeyes keep winning: Muzerall, Jaques honored with WCHA yearly awards (USCHO)

PWHPA inching closer to forming pro league (AP)

Five at the IX: Allie Morse

Allie Morse, former goaltender and current practice squad member for the Minnesota Whitecaps, sat down with The IX to chat about her role with the team, her brand new gear, and more.

Question: You grew up in Minnesota, went out east to Providence to play in college, and then returned to the Midwest to start your professional career. What was that homecoming like for you?

Allie Morse: Um, coming home from college…it was really exciting. I don’t know, I have kind of a soft personality, so it was a little tough adjusting to being out east. I really loved Providence, but I’m just kind of…always been a hometown Midwest girl. I don’t know. So it was really fun to come home. I have a ton of family, like, all very close. So it was just kind of nice to be able to be back with my family.

Q: Now, you’ve played three seasons with the Whitecaps, including one with the team before they joined the PHF. What changes did you witness during the team’s tenure as an independent franchise vs. when the team joined the league?

Morse: Um, so I was only with the non-PHF/NWHL [Whitecaps team] for one year, but we actually went to Sweden and played four games against SDHL teams, and that was super fun. That’s kind of how I actually got involved with the Whitecaps. I was kind of done playing hockey — I didn’t really like it anymore after college. And then one of my friends actually asked my dad like, “Okay, is Allie going to Europe?” and my dad was confused and asked me and I was like, “I didn’t hear anything about Europe.” So I asked Winny [Brodt-Brown] and she was like, “Yeah, come with, we need a goalie.”

So that’s just kind of how the Whitecaps have always been pre-PHF/NWHL and now it’s, I mean, the girls know everybody so they know who’s around who they want to build a team with. And I don’t know, that’s kind of the cool thing about our organization, specifically, is how storied it is. Obviously, this is an off season compared to normal; usually [the Whitecaps] have very successful years. I guess with the playoff structure, we still could, but yeah, it’s just cool knowing the girls are still super invested in this team. Nothing’s changed with the way the Whitecaps run; they’re still trying to grow the game, make our experience the best it can be. They just kind of have more resources now, which is awesome.

Q: Tell me a little bit about your perspective regarding the trajectory of your career, from your time in college to the pros to now. 

Morse: Oh, boy. Well, it was a long road, getting to Providence. I talked to a lot of schools and decided that small school feel was a good fit for me. It was a little bit of a roller coaster, playing time-wise. I finally started my junior year, started almost every game. And then I was out for about six months in the offseason with a couple of concussions. So that kind of took a hit and getting back into it senior year, and then kind of needed a mental break from hockey after my experience in college.

So I just kind of went and lived my life, skating with my friends every now and again. Actually, when I worked for Bauer, that was kind of what got me back on the ice. Obviously, my coworkers and I, we’re all hockey people, so we would just skate. And then, like I said, when [the Whitecaps] needed a goalie to go to Sweden, I was like, “Hell yeah, go to Sweden, play a couple hockey games. That sounds fun.” And then, I guess I ended up taking kind of another year off, but still skated once I didn’t make the team.

Ended up being on the team the next couple years…And then this year. Obviously, I didn’t quite make the team but I am still practicing with the team and then COVID makes a lot of [interesting] things happen. We ended up having a need for an equipment person this year — and with my experience with Bauer, I kind of fell into that role seamlessly, and it allowed me to travel with the team, which as a practice player I wasn’t able to do. I could still be on the bench and, you know, some of my favorite parts about being on the team is, you know, that game day atmosphere being with my friends, my teammates.

I’ll probably stick around until my big girl life kind of doesn’t allow it anymore. I sell real estate, my whole family sells real estate, full-time. So it’s kind of…they kind of go hand-in-hand in that they’re both pretty flexible.

Q: Tell me a little bit about the new goalie gear you debuted on Twitter in January, and what went into the design.

Morse: So that kind of goes back to my Bauer days as well. Playing at Providence, I mean, our colors are black, white, and silver…pretty lame colors as far as the setup is concerned. So I always kind of had this mindset of like, when I was designing my gear, I didn’t want it to look like somebody could just go pick it up off the shelf. But in college, I wore Vaughn and I was not super open to changing a lot of my gear.

Working for Bauer [after college], I got to like, try literally everything, like we had a rink in our store. So I could try out the pads, try out the skates, try literally everything. That got me to switch to Bauer my first year in the NWHL, when I got gear provided an Bauer. [Bauer] basically sublimates the design, so you can do literally anything you want, which is awesome.

So basically, with my first set, I knew they were breaking down and I knew that I wasn’t done playing, so I knew I needed a new set. I kind of started brainstorming. I met my boyfriend working at Bauer so it’s kind of like, one of our fun pastimes is designing gear…just big nerds.

But there’s a lot of cool goalie setups out there. Hunter Miska had a really cool set, and Hunter Jones had a really cool set for the Iowa Wild, so I kind of like took some bits and pieces that I liked from there. And then in the [NWHL’s Lake Placid season], when we got to debut our [white jerseys], I took some aspects from there. That’s where those trees came from. Pretty cool. But I kind of, the trees are kind of going flat across to kind of pay homage to my sock pattern that I wore in college. And then if you zoom in on the white part of my new ones, that same pattern is actually in the white part on my old pads. So I kind of had a little cool over there. And then my favorite part is a little duck, duck, gray duck on there. Just because, like I said, I’m a big Midwest hometown girl and I like being from Minnesota, so I kinda like to stir the pot.

Q: What was your reaction to your design and the resulting set-up going viral online? (Morse’s gear was reposted by a number of goaltender-centric Instagram and Twitter accounts, along with several major sports news organizations.)

Morse: So my boyfriend’s actually in digital marketing. So like, I was like, “Oh my god. It has this many impressions and then like, the next day it was at like 150,000 impressions,” and I was like, “Oh, my God.” Like Chad Greenway liked it. And he’s with Grey Goose Vodka and I was like, “Oh my god. That’s so cool.” I don’t know…it was just very…I didn’t like, expect it to blow up like that, but it was very cool.

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Tuesdays: Tennis
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Wednesdays: Basketball
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Thursdays: Golf
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Fridays: Hockey
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Saturdays: Gymnastics
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Written by Anne Tokarski