Play On! is passionate about promoting females in sport. In anticipation of International Women's Day on March 8th, we’re recognizing some past outstanding female athletes through their experiences with our events and beyond.
Who are you?
Morgan Tierney from Vancouver, British Columbia. I played varsity hockey for the University of British Columbia (UBC) Thunderbirds. After graduation, six T-Bird alumni and I formed the Vancouver Wellwoods: an all-female ball hockey team named after Vancouver Canucks forward Kyle Wellwood — our spirit animal.
What is your experience playing sports?
I was lucky to grow up on a street with lots of kids my age. Street hockey games were a regular occurrence and I was naturally drawn to the goalie position (aka I was the only girl so the boys put me in net)! I didn’t start playing ice hockey until I was 13, but I logged thousands of hours between the pipes in the cul-de-sac during my formative years. There were no girls teams in White Rock where I lived, so I played for the nearest female association — Surrey Female Minor Hockey. This meant a fair amount of driving, even to get to my “home” rinks in Fleetwood, Newton, and Surrey Central. My dad deserves a medal for driving me all over — especially to early morning practices.
Have you faced barriers playing male-dominated sports?
If anything, I think playing a male-dominated sport has made me a better person. Some guys are initially wary of having a 5’6” female goalie, but once they see I can play, they quickly accept me as one of their own. I do think it’s a shame there’s little in the way of professional women’s hockey in North America, but I can see the game is growing rapidly.
What does "growing the game" mean to you?
I think it means attracting girls to the sport initially then giving them opportunities to stay involved beyond the minor leagues. I feel like so many girls hang up their skates after high school. I’d love to see a true professional league in Canada where the players are paid a living wage and don’t have to cover their own travel expenses. We’re getting closer with the CWHL, but the ultimate tipping point would be a partnership with the NHL to fund and promote the women’s game.
Why is hockey important to you?
For me, it has always been about people. I wish everyone could experience the bonding and camaraderie of being on a team. The lifelong friendships I’ve formed through hockey — particularly with my UBC teammates and the Wellwoods — are some of the best I’ve ever had.
Tell us about your experience with Play On!
I’ve played five regional tournaments and three National Championships in the Women’s Elite division. My most memorable moment was making the finals of the 2011 National Championships in Victoria, B.C. We won our semi-final against the Victoria Extreme in a come-from-behind shootout victory, during a torrential downpour. We lost the finals to Calgary but just having the chance to play a championship game with a big crowd, live commentators, and $10,000 on the line was an experience I won’t soon forget.
Would you recommend Play On! to females?
Absolutely! It is an awesome experience: an entire weekend of street hockey with dozens of rinks, referees, prizes, a division for every skill level — and no stopping for cars! Even if you lose, you’ll still have a great time — and you’ll never feel more Canadian.
Interviewed by Play On!'s Melissa Sbrega who has played almost every sport both competitively and recreationally, and is a strong advocate for female athletics; she also loves getting to know the teams that participate in our events. This summer, find her by the scoreboard, reffing tournaments, or catching matches.