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Women forge sport on blades

Martha Ehrenfeld ’87 didn’t believe it when the managers at a fancy New York City ice skating facility told her there was no interest in starting a women’s ice hockey club. Now she’s the captain and manager of the Brooklyn Blades.

Martha played volleyball for four years at Bryn Mawr, but didn’t try ice hockey until two years after graduation. She bought a pair of skates, took late-night lessons, and attended hockey camps for girls (“who were shocked that such an old person was there!”). After becoming frustrated with the male-dominated adult leagues she found when she moved to New York, she was prepared to pull up stakes and play in Wisconsin when she learned about the Brooklyn Blades, a women’s club team.

This is Martha’s third year with the team, and “it’s my life!” she says. The members, who range in age from 16 to 49, practice together and compete locally with teams in the tri-state area. The 1997-98 season ended with competition in the world’s largest hockey tournament in Brampton, Ontario, comprised exclusively of women’s and girls’ teams.

The Blades have attracted their share of media interest. In addition to appearing in features in The New York Times and a spot on a Japanese cable show, the team was filmed by Nike for a video for NikeTown on 57th Street in Manhattan.

Team members keep in touch via the Internet — they have a Web page at http://www.brooklynblades.org. The team has on its roster a doctor, a priest, a stand-up comic, and an artist, among others. During the day, Martha works for a non-profit group, “Teaching Matters.” She visits public schools on grants to help teachers and students learn how to usetheir computers and integrate technology into the curriculum.

A lot has changed since Martha started playing. The sport is now one of the fastest growing in the country, having made an Olympic debut at Nagano in February. “Sometimes I get so mad thinking about those guys telling me there was not enough interest in women’s and girls’ ice hockey,” she says. But Martha wouldn’t take no for an answer, and “the rest is history!”

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