MEDFORD, Ore. — The Southern Oregon hockey community is accepting. Drew Snowden plays for the North Medford high school team, even though he’s in eighth grade. His sibling, Elise, plays for North, even though she’s a girl.
“In a sport that’s dominated by guys, she’s held her own and done really well,” said head coach Johnny Prestage.
“It’s definitely a surprise to people,” said Snowden. “They’ll see me. My brother and I go to public skates. They’ll see us skating, and they’ll ask my brother, ‘hey, do you play hockey?’ He’s like, ‘yeah, so does she.'”
The plan was originally to have Drew try the sport, but Elise jumped on board.
“My dad actually saw a flyer and asked my brother if he wanted to play so my brother played, and I don’t know what inspired me, but I saw my brother playing and I just wanted to go out so I started playing,” said Snowden.
Drew welcomed the company.
“He was just happy to have her,” said their dad, Andy. “Once they got skating out there and figured it out, they were just like fish in the water.”
The support shown by Drew is echoed by their North Medford teammates.
“She fits in great,” said Prestage. “Everybody likes her on the team and she does a great job. She’s a big part of our success here.”
Elise isn’t the only female hockey player on the team.
“The girls on the team are very well accepted by the boys, and the boys will take care of them out there, too,” said Andy. “They embrace having the girls on the team, but women’s hockey is growing, especially out here where hockey isn’t too well-known. It’s a little more unique.”