The Women’s Learn To Play* class is about to start up again at City National Arena. We know many women have interest in learning to play hockey but don’t attend the class because of cost, current fitness and skating ability, and perhaps fear of the unknown. Because those of us who have attended the class loved it, we want to ease your fears. Below is Shalom Stephens’ personal experience with the class, as well as details on how to obtain equipment and the cost of doing so. We hope this will inspire you to give it a try!
*The next session of WLTP begins on June 17th. The class is on Mondays at City National Arena from 7:30-8:30pm. All Levels Welcomed! The cost of the 6-week session is $155. Course includes ice times on Mondays and dryland training on Wednesdays (6:20pm). Drylands are hockey intense workouts off the ice (optional). Click here for more details.
I discovered hockey in high school while attending boarding school in the French Alps and quickly fell in love. Our small town hosted a Ligue Magnus (equivalent to the NHL) team and many of the players were Canadian (re: English speakers) and we befriended several, went to all of the home games and lots of practices. Hockey was my life and my outlet. Having grown up skating, I always wanted to play, but anywhere I lived, there was nowhere for women to play and I watched.
Two years ago, we moved to Vegas from the Northeast, right about the same time as the Knights took hold of the hearts of the city, and we fell in love as well. And, I wanted to play again. I had seen postings on Facebook about the Women’s Learn to Play at City National, but, let’s face it, I was 47, not in great shape and hadn’t skated regularly in 20 years, so I kept putting it off. Finally, a little over a year ago and with encouragement from Coach Glo, I figured, what do I have to lose.
Step 1 was equipment. Not knowing what I really needed, I headed to CNA one Sunday morning and got fitted with my gear. The cost was a little more than I expected, but I was doing this. I was going to play hockey. Over time, I started to replace a few pieces of equipment as I determined that some pieces just didn’t feel right. I know a lot of people hesitate to take part due to the cost of the equipment. I have found that if you do a little hunting, you can find lots of deals around and people selling their gently used equipment – just keep in mind if you go that route, don’t cheap out on skates or your helmet.
So I started my first Learn to Play with about 15 other women on a hot Vegas evening. I was terrified. That group was all skill levels and after some skating drills (and adjustment to hockey skates) I felt comfortable enough. We did some stick handling and passing, and I discovered that I had the wrong stick! Before I knew it, the class was over and I was soaking wet. Not only was it a good time, but probably one of the best work outs of my life. Each week, it was a little easier and things made more sense. And I kept repeating sessions and gaining more confidence.
This past January, I played in my first tournament as part of a women’s team and decided it was time to start E-League this spring. Unfortunately, the league conflicts with WLTP or I would be doing both. It’s up there with the best decisions I have made in a long time. Who would ever think that after 20 years in the Northeast, I would re-discover my love of hockey in the desert. I have made friends, had fun, and managed to get in a good workout. I know my age and physical condition make me a bit slower than many others, but it’s not about that – it’s about the joy of the sport. And…. It gives me a much greater appreciation of what is going on when I am watching games. Now, I am looking forward to playing more and, thankfully, I no longer get those pre-game jitters.
I would recommend it for anyone who loves the game. No need to worry about your skating ability, it will improve in the Learn to Play and there are plenty of sessions where you can work on it on your own. I am looking forward to playing for a long time to come and hope to see many more women out there as we grow hockey in the desert.
All equipment is fine used and will be significantly cheaper than buying new. However your skates will be more comfortable new and molded to your feet, and you may want a new helmet if you can’t clean a used one properly. Gloves are better new because they get gross. Prices below are for new CCM brand products, from icewarehouse.com.
Hockey Skates (not figure skating). If you buy these used, they may be heat molded to someone else’s foot and will be uncomfortable. But you can start this way and then purchase new ones (around $130-200 for starter skates) when you’ve decided you want to continue. You can get yours baked** (heat molded) at CNA for around $10. Give yourself around 45 mins to do this. **Note that some lower level skates shouldn’t be baked because it will wear down the material faster.
Shin Guards. $35-100.
Ice Socks– $10-15
Ice Pants– $50-120. If you are a solid skater, you’re fine going the cheaper route since there is no checking in rec leagues.
Shoulder Pads/Chest Protector– Most cost around $100, but some are as low as $40. Again, you can go the cheaper route for low-level rec leagues.
Elbow Pads– $25-40.
Gloves– About $50.
Helmet– $65 for a recreation level helmet with a cage. You want the cage to protect your face. Not worth risking it for rec league. Used is fine if you clean thoroughly and replace the padding inside.
Jersey– Women’s Learn To Play supplies you with a Jersey. But if you plan on playing pick-up (always fun), you’ll want to buy one dark/black practice jersey and one light/white practice jersey. $14 from Ice Warehouse.
Stick– You can get a wood stick (cheap, for beginners), or a composite stick. Composite are more expensive but they are also better for customizing the stick to the person. An inexpensive wood stick costs around $29, probably fine for your first WLTP. When you decide you want to play more, upgrade to a composite stick so you can can choose flex and kick range. Composite Sticks start around $50, but decent ones are more like $100. Coach Gloria helps explain how to choose the right stick for you in the class. Also, any pro store can help you choose as well.
Gear Carrying Bag– $30-85. You’ll need one. The gear can get heavy, so rolling bags are an option too. They cost about $65-110.
Performance Jill Pants– These are compression sports leggings that have velcro sock tabs to keep your socks up. They also have a removable “Jill” pelvic protector. I (Katie) personally use these and love them. I like the layer of protection it gives me between my skin and the hockey gear. I also like that it holds my socks up and keeps me “modest” in a co-ed dressing room. They are by Bauer and are on sale right now for $59 at Icewarehouse.com
Tape– There’s tape for your hockey stick (for grip and protection), and tape to keep your socks over your shin guards (if you don’t have Jill pants). Both cost about $3.
Blade Covers or Guards- Optional, but a good idea. These protect your skates from getting damaged in the bag, and protect your hands from getting hurt on the blades, when blindly digging through your bag. Cost about $10
Skate Lace Tighteners- $3. It’s a hook that helps you tighten your laces without hurting your fingers.
Mouth Guard- Recommended. You can find these anywhere that sells sports equipment. Costs as low as $3.
Pelvic Protector– Recommended. It’s called a “Jill” and is the female version of a jock strap and cup. Many performance pants and shorts come with a Jill.
Where to Buy:
http://icewarehouse.com– I’ve ordered lots of equipment from here. They have one-day shipping to Las Vegas and free returns. It was a very easy process and they have great deals.
purehockey.com– I’ve personally purchased skates, pants, and a stick from them when I found the store in Anaheim. They were very helpful and knowledgeable.
hockeymonkey.com– Never tried them, but I’ve heard about them. They have discounted gear.
Fiesta Hockey Pro Shop- They have new and used hockey gear. Sobe Ice Arena is also located in the Fiesta Rancho Hotel & Casino.
Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, Offer Up
Ask the members of our VGK Ladies group!
Las Vegas Hockey Outlet Group- https://www.facebook.com/groups/478999855599030/
Vegas Valley Hockey- https://www.facebook.com/groups/594918773962903/
Southern NV recycled hockey equipment- https://www.facebook.com/groups/372568213377831/
Women’s Learn to Play starts June 17th at CNA! Come out and have fun!
This post has NO affiliate links. Our experience with the sellers are included next to the links. We are not affiliated with any hockey gear vendor.