Ahead of the NWHL’s condensed season in Lake Placid, NY, set to begin on January 23rd, the Toronto Six are demonstrating their commitment to professional women’s hockey in an exciting way. Earlier today, the team unveiled their brand new, custom locker room, showcasing the players’ reactions and providing an in-depth look at the beautiful new space. The players’ excitement and gratitude is palpable, and in the video below they talk about how meaningful the investment in this space is to them as athletes and as a team:
I was fortunate enough to get an advanced peek at the room, and speak to The Six’s general manager, Mandy Cronin, about the creation of this space for the players and what it means about the team and ownership’s investment in not only this team, but professional women’s hockey as a whole.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time that a North American women’s professional hockey team has had an ownership group invest in a fully customized dressing room for their players. We started from a skeleton of a room, and built everything from a privacy wall to the player stalls, to the flooring, to the graphics.”
In professional sports, and hockey specifically, locker rooms are an important central space for the team to gather, prepare for and unwind after games, celebrate, commiserate, and more. Players spend an abundance of time in their dressing rooms throughout the season, and their stalls become an extension of themselves. In men’s hockey, the fans often get glimpses into the decked out, fancy spaces through media interviews or social media posts. We learn that these rooms are large and spacious, bright and welcoming – a space one would want to spend time in.
As Cronin noted, that historically has not been the case for women’s hockey teams, who have not benefited from the same sort of luxurious digs. But now, for the Toronto Six, that has changed. Cronin explained that “it has been an absolute thrill to design our room, and then watch it come together. I think it is safe to say that all of us retired pro’s would have loved to have had a room like this when we were still playing!”
She continued by talking about how exciting it was to see the players’ reactions to the space when they walked into the completed room for the first time.
“It was almost an emotional experience to see our players walk in there, and know that this is now their home away from home, and that they will no longer have to carry their bags in and out of the rink every day.”
The Toronto Six players now have a place to settle, where they all belong – as Cronin said, a home away from home. This commitment to permanence demonstrates how much the team’s ownership believes in this group, and in women’s professional hockey.
Cronin put it best when she told me how grateful she was for the ownership’s investment in creating this space: “I am extremely thankful to our owners for their commitment to raising the bar for women’s professional sports.”
The bar has most certainly been raised, as the pictures and video clearly show.
For the Toronto Six, and for girls and women who play and watch and enjoy hockey, this locker room isn’t just a locker room. It is a message – that women’s sports, and female athletes, are important, are necessary, and are here to stay. As Cronin once again wisely noted: “This room will not only be a safe, inclusive space for our team, but also a place that we can show off to younger generations of players to empower and educate them. If you see it, you can be it!”
Needless to say, we can’t wait to watch this team compete in January in Lake Placid. But more than that, we can’t wait to watch them for years to come. And now, they have a “home away from home” where they can settle and prepare to be the best that they can be, both on and off the ice.