With the Professional Women’s Hockey Players Association hot off back-to-back weekends of their nationally televised Dream Gap Tour at Madison Square Garden and the United Center, the future for women’s hockey has never looked so bright.
Grab your shades, ’cause it’s about to get even brighter right now. We’re talking to some of the top women’s hockey players about their role with Verbero Hockey and how it’s helping to change the game for them and the PWHPA!
*This article contains affiliate links. her Soul Shot is partnered with Verbero and receives a kickback of sales when code HERSOULSHOT is used to help us continue doing the work we’re doing for women in sports*
WHAT IS VERBERO HOCKEY?
It’s no secret that the majority of hockey equipment is made for and by men. Sure, women and girls have been marketed women-specific equipment in the past only to wonder if a man assumed it was what a women’s body needed rather than developing equipment that was designed by women.
Cue Verbero Hockey.
Verbero Hockey is taking women’s and girls in hockey seriously. They’ve put together a Women’s Hockey Equipment Advisory Board with the top women’s players to ensure that girls and women are getting the equipment they need. They’re also helping to market women’s hockey players to give more exposure to the game and the athletes, as well as giving them a percentage of sales back to the athletes and organizations supporting them.
The coolest part? They’re the first hockey company to give a women’s hockey player her own custom stick (yeah, we know, it’s 2021). Now, little girls can hit the ice with the stick of their hero in their hands and women hitting that late night ice at beer league can smile knowing they’re finally using a stick with a woman’s name on it, something they wished they had growing up.
Blake Bolden’s custom stick is on sale until March 10 and you can get your own here (use code HERSOULSHOT to score 5% off!).
VERBERO ATHLETE INTERVIEWS
We caught up with some of Verbero’s athletes to hear what they’ve been up to and what they have to say about the importance of companies like Verbero Hockey stepping up for the women’s game (hint: we need MORE of it)!
BLAKE BOLDEN – PWHPA MEMBER & SCOUT FOR THE LA KINGS
You’re the first women’s pro player to have her own stick deal. What does that mean to you?
It means a great deal to me. I am so proud of my stick, it’s absolutely beautiful, created by and for me. It’s such an honor. I hope this inspires women and girls to know their worth. If they want something, to go after it and get it. I was also fortunate enough to have a great relationship with an amazing ally for women in the game, Andy Sutton. These two combinations are the recipe for growth in not just hockey, but all of women sports. Taking us one step closer to levelling the playing field… or ice.
What do you want to tell every little girl with big dreams or woman still living the dream playing late night rec hockey who picks up your stick and hits the ice with it in their hands?
This one is for all of us. To be recognized, to be seen, to be valued. I want women, girls, boys, men, everyone to feel BOLD when they have a BB signature stick in their hands.
The work you’re doing in hockey is phenomenal. Often when the talks of inequity in women’s hockey happen, equipment isn’t always the leading subject, but hockey equipment and gear is majorly made with men in mind. Where do you hope to see this go so that women feel seen and included in the process and reality of having equipment made with them in mind?
I see women asking for what they need instead of taking what’s left over. I see equipment being made specifically with women in mind. It’s a great feeling to know these changes are happening now. Custom is necessary in every aspect, especially in sport, you want to look good, feel good, so you can play good. #bebold #bedifferent #beverbero
Connect with Blake Bolden:
ALYSSA GAGLIARDI – PWHPA MEMBER & GIRLS & WOMEN’S HOCKEY SPECIALIST FOR THE CAROLINA HURRICANES
You recently announced you will be the head of the Carolina Hurricanes’ new Girls Youth Hockey Program. What’s the biggest goal you hope to achieve with this program?
The biggest goal for this program is to create an environment for female players to foster and develop a love for the game of hockey and develop skills of everything that comes with this great sport, such as self-confidence, work ethic, teamwork, integrity, etc. There’s so much interest in girls hockey and the girls game has grown tremendously over the last few years, and it’s important to ensure there’s an environment for them to thrive and continue to fall in love with the sport and the process of improving, making friends, and having fun.
We’re focused on doing things in a unique way: the program will be led entirely with female coaches that have played and coached at a variety of levels, having guest speakers and Zoom calls with members of the the US Women’s National Team, and ensuring these girls have access to role models that they can relate to and see what they can accomplish.
What does it mean to you to have teams and companies like the Canes and Verbero investing in girls and women’s hockey?
It’s so huge that organizations are making a focus on girls and women’s hockey a priority. I feel very fortunate to be part of an NHL organization that embraces any ideas about how we can grow the game, get more women involved, highlight women for their accomplishments, and provide opportunities and platforms to showcase girls and women in the game. It really means so much to have this shift in the landscape and to make this the new norm. It’s a credit to the people within organizations like the Hurricanes or Verbero who put a premium on the talents and accomplishments of women in sports and want to support the growth of the game in all areas.
Connect with Alyssa Gagliardi:
KIMBERLY SASS – PWHPA MEMBER & ARCHITECT
You signed a pro equipment deal with Verbero Hockey where you’ll be able to design a custom goalie setup and not pay for it. What does signing this deal and Verbero’s partnership mean to you?
This set of pads/gloves will only be the second set that I will not have to pay for during my professional career (five years). In college, you receive free custom equipment head to toe, and unfortunately when you turn pro on the women’s side, that treatment does not continue. Most female professional players that are not with their respective National Teams do not have equipment deals. Verbero is stepping up, and providing this treatment to female athletes is game changing. I think other equipment companies may rethink their investment in professional women’s hockey.
As a member of the Women’s Equipment Advisory board, what changes do you hope to see in equipment for women and girls? Is there anything goalie-specific you’d like to see changed?
Being a part of the Verbero Women’s Equipment Advisory Board is such an incredible opportunity. The other PWHPA players are working on skater equipment tweaks and I am working with Jared on certain female goalie equipment changes. Some of the goalie equipment ideas that I have brought to the table are:
- Changing the language for “intermediate sizing” for women (often adult female goaltenders have to order intermediate pad sizing due to knee cradle height, intermediate paddle height on sticks, and intermediate palms in glove and blocker)
- Ensuring the proper break placement on catching glove (lower in palm to provide ease of closure)
- Chest protector changes not only to make it more comfortable/effective for the female body, but for shoulder/hip width and overall sizing
- Proper boot sizes on female pads. Large boot size will not be an issue due to Verbero Goalie being all custom, which they will be doing at a lower price point to make it accessible (most of the time the boot of the pad can be too large as it is made for a male skate size and can severely interfere with your stance/recovery)
CONNECT WITH KIMBERLY SASS:
VENLA HOVI – RETIRED TEAM FINLAND PLAYER, COACH, & PWHPA SUPPORTER
You’ve won two Olympic medals with Team Finland and credit it to being able to push each other to a new level as teammates. What’s the biggest lesson you learned about being a teammate through your time with Team Finland?
My biggest lesson is that being a selfless teammate opens up a whole new world for yourself as a player. The more you play for your team and the more you genuinely celebrate your teammate’s successes, it will pay off in the long run for yourself and for your team. Hockey is so much fun when you walk that journey with your teammates. Finland is known for tight knit team play and I will always carry that mentality with me in life
What does it mean to you to be a part of the Verbero team now to give more to girls and women in hockey?
I am super excited! I believe Verbero is part of something bigger that ties into today’s society. People are starting to realize the potential of girls and women in hockey. I have always known the value of females myself because I have been part of the game for so long, but I can sense the change and growth in the hockey world. The game is taking a step forward and Verbero wants to support it, which is why I support Verbero.
CONNECT WITH VENLA HOVI:
AMANDA PELKEY – PWHPA MEMBER
You’re giving back so much to girls in hockey with your camps and mentoring: What’s the biggest piece of advice you can give girls dreaming of a future in hockey?
The women’s hockey movement has made so many strides moving forward this past year. The biggest piece of advice I would give girls dreaming of a future in hockey is to keep believing and visualizing in the possibility. Whether that be on an outdoor rink wearing a female hockey player’s jersey or watching the women play on tv. These moments are so powerful. When I was younger on my outdoor rink at my house, I imagined myself as NHL players. The 1998 Women’s Olympic team paved the way for my dreams and showed me what was possible. Now, young girls can look all around sports, both male and female, and be inspired by the opportunities in front of them.
What are you most looking forward to in partnering with Verbero?
I am most looking forward to creating more connections in the hockey community and building relationships with young female players. Verbero has put together a strong team of female ambassadors that all share the same vision for the sport. We all see the value and excitement that female hockey brings to people. This sport has an amazing platform right now to build off from and I am looking forward to continuing to innovate and create more dreams and possibilities for the next generation.
CONNECT WITH AMANDA PELKEY:
CAROLYNE PREVOST – PWHPA MEMBER, TEACHER, & CROSSFIT ATHLETE
You are a professional hockey player, a CrossFit athlete (12th fittest in the world in 2019), and a high school teacher. How do you do it all & what has it taught you about yourself?
I’ve always been very good at time managing and prioritizing what needs to get done every day. I try to maximize my time at school or work so that I can play sports in the evenings or on weekends. I’ve had to make sacrifices in different areas of my life but thats all part of the process. I’m very goal oriented and work very hard to accomplish everything that I set out to do.
I’ve learned the importance of surrounding myself with great people and a great team. I put in a lot of work myself but it really helps to have a great supporting cast of people who push me to become better in all different areas of my life.
What are the biggest changes in the women’s hockey world you hope to make alongside Verbero?
I’m excited about the opportunity to work alongside a company that believes in women’s hockey and supports us! I’m looking forward to seeing and wearing products that fit us better!
CONNECT WITH CAROLYNE PREVOST:
LAURA MCINTOSH – PWHPA COACH & BUSINESS OWNER
As a head coach in the PWHPA and owner of your female hockey development program, LMcIntosh Hockey, what does it mean to you to have Verbero invest in you and women’s hockey?
It means so much to me that Verbero is investing in women’s hockey and the athletes and coaches. In conversations with Verbero, it is evident that they are passionate about women’s hockey and that is what made it so easy for me to hop on board with what they are trying to achieve. I am very happy to be a part of it. With the movements of the PWHPA and women’s hockey in general, this is a great opportunity for everyone and Verbero is showing a tremendous amount of support. As for my female hockey development program, it means a lot for me to be able to put forward a company that I know supports female athletes and coaches.
With experience as a player, coach, and business owner, what advice do you have for other girls and women in hockey based on the lessons you’ve learned from the game?
There are so many things I have learned as a player, coach and business owner. I learn new things every day as I continue my hockey journey now as a coach and business owner. If there was one piece of advice I could give to young female hockey players it would be to have fun and enjoy all of these moments they have in their young hockey journeys because it might not feel like it now, but it goes by quick.
CONNECT WITH LAURA MCINTOSH:
OLIVIA ZAFUTO – PWHPA MEMBER
Teaming up with partners like Verbero and Parity allows women athletes to get paid and provides exposure for them as athletes. What is the significance of these partnerships for you?
Teaming up with them is amazing. As you mentioned, it’s great to get paid but the exposure is what can really make a difference. Visibility is so important and we are firm believers if you can see it you can be it, not only for young girls to watch us on TV but also to see partnerships like Verbero and the first ever women’s stick deal. If young girls can see these things happening, they have something they can dream of becoming. Having companies who choose to invest in us and advocate with us gives us power to further the game.
What impact do you hope to leave on the game?
It’s so cliche but I hope to leave the game in a better place than when I found it – we all do. I grew up getting dressed in a boiler room or closet sometimes in rinks when I played with the boys – I mean it still happens sometimes. I hope girls don’t have to experience that. We’ve had to advocate and market ourselves to get to where we are at now. It gives me confidence with companies like Verbero and Parity stepping up and investing in us that things are only going to get better from here. I hope there is a truly professional league with players making a livable salary. I hope to inspire young girls, especially back home in Buffalo and give these players an opportunity to develop and reach their greatest potential.
CONNECT WITH OLIVIA ZAFUTO:
BRITTANY HOWARD – PWHPA MEMBER
How does partnering with Verbero align with your mission alongside the PWHPA to create a better future for women’s hockey?
Verbero is providing female athletes the necessary resources to compete at the elite level. Through the revenue sharing platform, Verbero provides the opportunity to grow the women’s game and ensure its athletes are taken care of financially to train, and compete.
As part of the Verbero Equipment Advisory Board, what are the biggest improvements you hope to make to hockey equipment for girls and women?
I think the most important piece of equipment, which I would like to see accessible to female athletes, is the ability to use an adult size blade paired with an intermediate shaft. The ability to change the shaft to a smaller flex allows the athlete to properly use the given flex point of the hockey stick, which is vital to increasing the velocity and power on a player’s shot.