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The Purple Tide

Hannah Ehlers breaks gender barriers on the ice

Julia Shyy, Copy editor

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Historically, ice hockey is a sport dominated by males. As times have changed, however, so have the customs of the sport.

“I have received many sexist comments or actions [while playing ice hockey],” sophomore Hannah Ehlers said. “Being the minority, all I want [is] to be accepted.”

Ehlers plays for the varsity ice hockey club. She has been playing the sport for 10 years and last year was a member of the JV team.

“Most of the guys think of me as one of them, which is important to me and gives me a sense of security,” Ehlers said. “Being accepted and wanted as a teammate is always a challenge, because not all the guys [on other teams] are as friendly as Chantilly boys.

Despite the prejudice against females in sports, the ice hockey club welcomes Ehlers as another worthy player of the team.

“She fits in perfectly with the quirky guys that we have on the team,” head coach Nathan Van Nuys said.

So far, Ehlers has been a valuable member who has displayed growth throughout her involvement in the program.

“I have seen [Ehlers] develop as a hockey player since the spring of 2015,” Van Nuys said. “She has shown steady development over the past year and a half.”

For Ehlers, ice hockey has been a source of many challenges that she has to work hard to conquer.

“I’ve played with boys my whole life, but now most of them have gone through puberty so it makes them naturally stronger and faster than me,” Ehlers said. “Physically, I am not as strong as them, which puts me at a disadvantage.”

Apart from this physical challenge, Ehlers also encounters obstacles concerning the open-mindedness of others.

“Being treated differently or having special treatment by coaches or players is something that I always fear will happen,” Ehlers said. “I have been on teams where guys will not accept the fact that there is a girl on their team and will completely ignore me.”

Ehlers has battled social prejudices, but she refuses to be identified by the stereotypes.

“Ever since I was young, I [have] aspired to change the view and the stereotype of predominantly male sports,” Ehlers said. “A large number of people doubt that I am able to keep up with boys, so I try my hardest to prove them wrong.”

Ehlers follows the footsteps of her older brother, senior Noah Ehlers, who also plays for the varsity ice hockey club.

“I wanted to play for the team when my brother first played for them,” Ehlers said. “The high school team is the only way I am able to play with him, and that means the world to me.”

Her brother continues to inspire her, not only as a family member, but as a teammate as well.

“We consider her one of our teammates,” Noah said. “We all formed a bond with her.”

With Ehlers on the team this year, she continues to break barriers and set new standards for girls in male-dominated sports.

“It is a true blessing that I am with this amazing group of guys,” Ehlers said. “[I look forward to] developing bonds with the other boys and becoming a stronger team.”

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The student news site of Chantilly High School (Chantilly, VA)
Hannah Ehlers breaks gender barriers on the ice