The IX: Hockey Friday with Erica L. Ayala, August 9, 2019

The Aurora Games! — Audra Richards interview — Must-click women's hockey links

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Aurora Time

If you are a believer in women’s sports (who am I kidding, I KNOW YOU ARE), then you should keep up with the Women’s Sports Foundation and The Aurora Games. The two recently announced a partnership (link below) for the upcoming women’s sports festival in Albany, NY.

What are The Aurora Games?

It was recently described to me as a mini Olympics, but with only women’s sports. Over 150 world-class athletes with compete in six sports: Ice Hockey, Tennis, Gymnastics, Basketball, Figure Skating, Beach Volleyball, and a table tennis exhibition. The festival will showcase women’s sports in a Team Americas vs. Team World competition.

On the line is the Babe Didrikson Zaharias Trophy. Babe was a multi-sport athlete that paved the way in women’s golf in particular. Her legacy is honored through The Aurora Games. Ice Hockey players attending The Aurora Games include: Blake Bolden, Venla Hovi, Molly Engstrom, and our guest for next week’s Five at The IX, Lauren Dahm.

I do wish the professional leagues and national teams would support, even through social media, the event more. Additionally, there are very few women of color represented as athletes or panelists for the event. Overall, I am excited to see women’s sports united in this way.

I plan to be reporting live from the event for The IX Newsletter. Which athletes from the list of participants are you most excited to hear from?

This Week in Women’s Hockey

Reminder: First, the underlined words are the links. Second. CLICK these, even if you’ve already read them. Clicks = Attention from editors, producers and webmasters. Third, if you want to push out stuff you’ve written or read, email me!

The Women’s Sports Foundation has officially partnered with The Aurora Games!

Per usual, The Hockey Writer give you a look into the latest NWHL signings Becki Bowering, Marie-Jo Pelletier, Cassidy MacPherson, and inaugural NWHL player Alyssa Wohlfeiler.

Daniel Harbridge is an excellent advocate for the women’s hockey community, check out his latest post!

Lake Placid excited to host the USA Hockey Women’s Festival next week, writes The Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

The Ice Garden 2019 Top 25 under 25 list is LIVE!

You can keep up with the goings-on of the festival by following the USA Hockey daily notebook.

The Ice Garden published a Q&A with Susanna Tapani, who will represent Team Worlds at the inaugural Aurora Games Festival later this month.

Remember that women’s hockey play I keep telling you about, Glory? Well, it’s playing at the Thousand Islands Playhouse through August 17th. Someone PLEASE tell me all about this IRL! Until then, read this review which includes a line I couldn’t help but laugh at:

“The Rivulettes faced huge obstacles that most people wouldn’t have overcome: including working full time jobs while trying to squeeze in practices at odd hours (late at night-early morning) because men’s hockey teams had ice time preferential.”

Kendall Coyne Schofield headlines third annual Chicago Hockey Charity.

Tweet of the Week


Five at The IX: Audra Richards, Minnesota Whitecaps

Audra Richards returns to the NWHL, but with a new team. As a rookie, Richards scored 8 goals for the Riveters and was selected to the 2019 All-Star Weekend in Nashville, TN.

Erica L. Ayala: What went into your decision to return to hockey, but with the Whitecaps?

Audra Richards: I think just a lot of different things went on in my life in the last couple of months after the season. I got my (teaching) job back, so I’m back in Minnesota. And then, I just decided that I wanted to continue playing hockey and the opportunity was here in Minnesota and it’s only a 10 minute drive for me to get to the rink, so it’s very convenient. So, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to play hockey, especially since it’ close to home, close to my family, and it’s pretty much everything I need.

ELA: When #ForTheGame went down, what was you understanding of the movement and how did that information make its way to you, as a player that’ not on a national team?

AR: When it came out, I was kind of in panic mode. I didn’t really know what to think of what was going on and I didn’t really have an understanding of what was going on. I guess it just hit me so hard and I originally jumped on the train because I assumed that everyone was jumping on the train.

The news came to me from one of the players. They called me and they let me know what was going on. It was more of a shock than anything. I was not expecting that to e the call. I guess I really don’t know much about the situation that I can share, but I feel that players each have their own opinion and I can’t judge anybody for [what] they want to decide.

ELA: I think an interesting question to ask is, when you hear players are banding together and will not sign a North American contract, what about that resonated after having played one season in the NWHL?

AR: Honestly, for me it was straight panic, nothing really resonated with me. I want the game of hockey for women to be better, obviously. I want us to be seen on T.V., that’s my biggest thing. I want the crowds to get bigger. But, I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the NHL. And, I don’t think the professional women’s league is going to be built in a day either.

So, I think my biggest thing is, the reason I’m staying with the NWHL is that I belive that Dani [Rylan] is doing something great and I believe she’s building something amazing but (audio distorted) that’s not something that’s going to happen tomorrow, we’re not going to be making all of this money. That’s pretty much my thoughts on all of it.

ELA: I’m curious to hear more about the panic you experienced. I think a lot of people experienced panic, shock, excitement, and other mixed emotions. Now that we are several months removed from that, has the panic subsided? Are you still nervous about the upcoming season? I mean, how are you feeling about things?

AR: After seeing all the girls that a signing, I think it’s going to be a very competitive league, regardless. Especially with all the rookies that are signing. They’re all top players from their respective Division I programs and the ones returning to the NWHL are also top players returning.

I mean, we have top players from the Whitecaps returning, top players from Connecticut, you have Buie on the Buffalo Beauts, and then you have top players on the Rivs. So, I feel it’s going to be extremely competitive and I have a feeling the NWHL is going to be around longer than most people think.

ELA: Alright, well if that is the case, at least as of now, you’re taking your talents back to Minnesota … Given how things played out for you in your rookie season, what role do you hope to play with your new team?

AR: Honestly, I have no idea what to expect or anything. But, I hope that I can contribute to the offensive side of things. I mean, they’re already an offensively strong team, but that’s where my strengths are.

Obviously I can score but I can’t pass because I had zero assists (laughs), but I hope I can contribute on the offensive side, possibly get on power plays, and see what I can do with different teammates. I grew up with a lot of the girls on the team, and/or played against them in college and have become pretty good friends with them, so I hope to gel with them pretty quickly.

Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By Lindsay Gibbs, @Linzsports ThinkProgress
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal High Post Hoops
Thursdays: Golf
By Carly Grenfell, @Carlygren
Fridays: Hockey
By: Erica Ayala, @ELindsay08 NWHL Broadcaster

Written by Erica L. Ayala