Celebrating the Markham Ladies Hockey League: Inspiring Stories and the Ontario Senior Games

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Introducing the Markham Ladies Hockey League. Their team played in the Ontario Senior Games this year! Sue McCormick tells us about the impact of the league on her life, as well as the lives of those who play with her.

Please tell us about how the Markham Ladies Hockey league began

The Markham Ladies Hockey League started about 15 years ago. It was started to have an intermediate level league that focused on fun. It was started by a lady named Deb Lind and I took over the league in 2016. We are composed of 4 teams and players ranging from age 26-70yrs old! 

Can you share any personal stories or anecdotes about how hockey has positively impacted individuals within your league or community?

You ask about personal stories from hockey that have positively impacted women in our league. Well, there are many, with Marie Dorey turning 70 and painting her skates gold to play! What a woman! She keeps the league alive!

This is Marie Dorey, or “Daz” as we call her with her gold skates on her 70th birthday!

We have supported one of our ladies as she had breast cancer and came back to play! It was the desire “to get back to the girls”, as she put it, that gave her the mental, emotional and physical strength throughout her surgery and chemotherapy. I think the most meaningful thing to happen that impacted the entire league, community and families is the story and legacy of young Maariyah. She played in the MLHL for the 2021-22 season. She was cleared by her doctors as she was a heart transplant recipient in 2018. She told the league about her story and how important it is to sign your organ donor card! She brought us reading material to learn about how crucial this is. Unfortunately, on October 5, 2022, Maariyah suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. We were devastated. In recognition of Marriyah’s journey, our league made a financial donation to the Canadian Transplant Association and we all wear a special sticker on our hockey helmet. Maariyah’s legacy lives on as we step onto the ice every Thursday night. 💚 

The sticker we wear on our helmets in honour of Maariyah. 

Angela James, a legendary figure in hockey, was on your team. What was it like playing alongside such an iconic player?

Angela James, what can I say? She truly is absolutely amazing! She is such a legend and was one of the founding women that got women’s hockey recognized. I was thrilled to play along side her and watch with the ease and skill how she plays! She would help us on and off the ice and was so humble. Angela did not think of herself as famous or a legend, just a regular person! She is not only incredible to play with but is a lot of fun off the ice.

Joanne, Angela James, and Holly

Congratulations on making it to the Ontario Provincial Senior Winter games! How does it feel to have played in this event?

The Ontario Senior Games were outstanding! I was surprised on how many of us ‘old folks’ are still so active! The organization of the games is run by volunteers and everyone at the rink and elsewhere were helpful and supportive. It was an honor to play and hope that myself and my teammates can qualify again. The competition is getting pretty tough with the youngsters (we were in the 55+ division) so we may be thinking of moving up to the 60+ division as many of us are over 60.

Can you tell us more about the qualifying tournament and the journey leading up to your team’s success?

Our journey to the Ontario Senior Games was exciting! We played in a really tough tournament in Georgetown in Nov. 2023. Most of the teams play together regularly (and we don’t) but with hard work, placed 2nd, so that qualified us to the Provincial Games. Our captain, Barb Armstrong, booked ice time and we tried to meet every Monday to practice as many of us didn’t always play on a single team together. It was interesting as we got to know each other well and learned a lot about our hockey histories.

Orillia at the Senior Games – Provincials

Finally, I just can say that I am thankful that I have the opportunity to play hockey with each and every great woman! I have learned so much about teamwork, strength, how all women of all levels can enjoy and promote hockey – young and old!

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