Lady Raiders vs. Empire playoff in the first game of the day, to compete for $5,000.
September 28, 2019, location The Rinks Irvine, 3150 Barranca Parkway (Lariat/ Delani Taft)
The first professional game on Women’s Inline Series took place this past weekend. Some of the teams, such as the Lady Raiders, Empire, and Rink Rats, were competing for a $5,000 first place win and a $1,000 second place cash prize. This event was an all-day thing. Trust me; I was there from 10 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. It was rough. With live music and catered BBQ, families were able to spend the day at this event and have a great time.
Parking was a nightmare. When the rinks have normal games, all the spots are full. Turns out, when they have tournaments, it’s everyone for themselves. People were parking on the sidewalk, in the bushes, the crosswalks, and the handicap loading zones. Some people ended up parking at The District and walking the mile and a half carrying their gear and sticks. “I parked over at the fire station next door, I hope they don’t tow me, I was going to be late to the game. They really aren’t prepared for large events in this parking lot.” said James Heald.
The teams consisted of women from 16 years old girls to moms, who were married and brought their kids. Fans brought cut-outs of players’ faces, banners, and personalized stickers to show their support for the ladies. The teams consisted of 9 to 12 players, including subs, all females, of course. The teams had never played as a group before, the coaches grouped together groups of women who’d be compatible and calling it a team. Some of the ladies practice hockey for fun, but never in a full-on league together.
The Showdown Pro was able to happen with the support of the players, team managers and some sponsors, including Nothing is Greater Than Equality. There was a $3 entree fee per spectator and $50 for the players to obtain their jersey. The Rinks have hosted many pro games before, so they were used to the compacted crowds. Luckily, most players could leave between play-offs and come back in a few hours for the rotating game schedules.
The Rinks were laid out in four arenas, Corey, Casey, 1, and 2. Rinks Corey and Casey are named after late hockey players who used to practice at the facility. The building is considered an “outdoor rink” meaning the sides were open and a metal roof above. Because The Rinks are outdoors, it is very selective to the weather conditions. May games in the future have been cancelled due to rain and there was a 70% chance on the day, but the rain held out. I personally am very thankful for the outdoor seating and ventilation. Standing within five feet of a sweaty player will result in a stench no person would ever wish to encounter. Used hockey gear is thankfully quarantined to the locker rooms and bags.
Each team played face-off games until the final playoffs, resulting in the Rink Rats winning the $5,000 grand prize.
“Although the tournament didn’t end as I would have hoped, I am happy I got the experience to play with such talented women,”Lady Raiders player, Sydney Reys said. “It was truly an honor to play against other pro-women players and that we were all able to come together and play here at the Rinks.”said Reyes.
At the end of the day, it was great to see an all women’s team able to play a professional game. Usually, hockey caters to the men’s teams, but these women had their chance to shine and took full advantage of it, and everyone came out as a winner.