Play like a girl
In the fall of 1974, I couldn’t wait to climb “lib slope” on Cornell’s campus with my hockey bag over my shoulder on my way to the famous Lynah rink. So what if it was 5:00 AM and freezing cold! I was going to participate in my first ever real hockey practice! I was about to play on the same ice that Ryan O’Neal skated when he starred in my favorite movie, “Love Story”. For those of you who don’t know this tear-jerker of a movie; heart throb O’Neal plays ice hockey for Harvard in love with Ali McGraw. O’Neal is portrayed as a hot head who lands in the penalty box against rival Cornell. Everyone in the 70s knew about the movie, I however, wanted to be one of the few women to step foot as a player in this iconic arena. My eyes were watery, alright, but not from sadness about Ali McGraw’s character dying, but because it was ice cold changing into hockey gear in the unheated lady’s bathroom in Lynah.
I came to Ithaca as a freshman in 1974 for two reasons: one was to attend classes at Cornell’s prestigious Architecture Art And Planning College,( AAP) and the other was to play Division I Ice Hockey. Cornell was the ONLY school in the US, no, I re-phrase that, Cornell was the ONLY school in the WORLD where a young woman could both major in painting and play collegiate ice hockey. Thank GOD I had been accepted into the program!! This was my dream come true, because in 1972, Title IX had passed Congress thereby making it law for schools getting federal dollars (colleges, universities & high schools), to provide equity in men’s and women’s athletics. Unfortunately, my high school in Waterville, did not even have a girls basketball team at that time. So I skated on neighborhood rinks, (ones that I worked at making ice spraying with a hose at night), and played for no team. It took several years for schools to comply with the Title IX law and offer sports programs for girls. Thankfully, that is why the young co-ed, Reggie Baker convinced Cornell to organize a women’s ice hockey team, (with a volunteer coach.) Reggie was the first captain of the Big Red Varsity Women’s Ice Hockey team in 1972!
Painting my passion
Ithaca opened my eyes not only to the athletic opportunities of the world outside the state of Maine, but also to the creative and artistic world! I was immersed into cultural changes. I had painting, drawing and sculpture studio courses, along with design and other liberal arts courses. I took my first life drawing class, and ate my first NY bagel! I played field hockey in September and October for the Big Red, and realized that even though I had been captain of my field hockey team back at WHS, I wasn’t in Kansas anymore! I was fortunate to just make the JV field hockey team at Cornell. Those girls were gazelles! But, I was determined to play varsity on the ice. My ice hockey coach Bill Duthie was defenseman and teammate of the legendary hockey goalie Ken Dryden who both played at Cornell. Bill was and is the best coach I ever played for: soft-spoken, knowledgeable and patient with us green players and could he walk the talk!? His slap shot was shattering!
At Cornell, I skated hard and painted hard! My favorite subjects involved athletics. I had an art assignment to do a self portrait. I completed one in Renoir’s style, but the self-portrait that inspired me most was the painting of me playing the sport I loved. I chose the intense crimson to depict passion and because “Red” is Cornell’s school color. I expanded on the only photograph of women’s ice hockey that had appeared in the Cornell campus newspaper in black and white. I seized the chance to clearly depict myself and another young woman playing hard on the ice. I was left defense and in this painting Cornell is playing a local high school team, the Ithaca Shooting Stars. They were tough! Examining the details, it is clear that this is truly an historic portrayal of the beginning of the sport for women. We are grasping wooden sticks, wearing leather skates, with no face masks on our helmets. What people can not see is the fact that sports bras had not been invented yet, and we had no shoulder pads with breast protectors, or “jill-straps”. But, the illustration of two athletes fighting for the puck is evident and the competitive spirit runs through our veins today. That is why, I drove out to Ithaca this past July and donated my painting back to the Cornell Women’s Ice Hockey program during the 45 reunion of the women’s ice hockey program.
Skate for the stars
I am grateful that Coach Doug Derraugh and, wife Louise Derraugh, Director of Women’s Ice Hockey operations, Dean Jackson, and Edith Racine, asst. coaches who have hung my 1975 painting in the Cornell Women’s Ice Hockey office for players, parents, visitors and faculty to view. Recruits being interviewed can gaze upon this bold depiction of the history of women in passionate play. Hopefully, they can imagine themselves in my spot grinding for the “Big Red Machine”. Last weekend I returned to Ithaca and met the current players, (no one is a painting major :-(, cheered at two varsity women’s ice hockey games vs. Wisconsin, and attended the Cornell Women’s Ice Hockey Association meeting, (2nd ever!). I met Richie Moran, legendary Cornell lacrosse coach and met Katherine Schweitzer Executive Director of the Baird Foundation in Buffalo, NY. Their words inspired me to give back to the women’s ice hockey program again.
With the help of my friends at Print Bangor, I have limited editions of archival laser prints of my original oil painting of the two young women ice hockey players, “Women Ice Breakers”. I am donating a portion of the proceeds back to the program that rocked my world as a young woman. Yes, women’s athletics have come a long way in the 45 years since the passage Title IX, but they still remain under-funded, under staffed and in cramped quarters, lacking equipment. And some schools still do not offer girls the same opportunities as boys. It is about funding and money. Every girl deserves a chance to play, period, no matter where she lives or socio-economic background. It’s my hope that all girls can skate and play ice hockey to develop discipline and leadership, with your support, we can get-er-dun! People can own a colorful part of ice hockey history as a reminder of how far women have come and how much we can still achieve.Thank you for reading my blog and Happy Thanksgiving! Please like and share if you do and visit my website: www.Teddi-JannCovell.com
Speaking of giving
Friday evening is the Maine Discovery Museum’s Auction. Every year members of the Bangor Art Society and other talented artists donate their creativity to the museum. This year the blank “slate” was a four sided bin with a lid. There were three different sizes. I turned the bin upside down and made a replica of the Swan’s Island Light House, Burnt Coat Light, with the help of my husband and neighbor! Come see all the bins and support the Discovery Museum. Also, support the Bangor Art Society artists on Friday! Raise your bidding paddles high! Thank you!