Female Goalies: Tender But Tough!

female goalies
Cathy and daughter Katie

An interview with two female goalies—a mom and her daughter

When did you start playing hockey?

Cathy Lucido (mom): I started playing at age 36 (I will soon be turning 50).

Katie (daughter): I started playing roller hockey at age 4 and then ice hockey at 6 (I am now 17).

What made you decide to become a goalie?

Cathy: I grew up playing softball. I loved softball; I was a shortstop from when I could remember. I also played soccer when I was 13. My mom had to go and talk them into letting a girl play in the boys’ league. It just wasn’t a big thing for girls at the time. But I grew up watching my dad play for a Hungarian team, and I was always kicking and chasing the ball.

In high school and college, I played softball at third base. Later, at the age of 36, I saw a flyer that read, “Put your kids to bed and come learn to play hockey,” and that was all I needed. I asked a neighbor if I could borrow his gear (I owned a pair of used skates) and off I would go… I would literally crash into the boards on purpose just so I could stop.

But I got better, and week after week I would ask the goalie to borrow his equipment to try it out. He would just tell me, “No.” I think I bugged this poor guy so much that he gave in and that was it. I knew the first time I put on all the gear that that was where I was gonna play.

Being a late bloomer, I truly don’t have the same motions as the other goalies I see playing. I just kind of play third base out there on the ice. My glove is probably the best thing I have going for me.

Katie: I started as a goalie. When I was little I played softball and basketball, and I was the first girl to play flag football in my town. I started playing roller hockey, and just found my way to the net and I loved it there. I always wanted to just play goalie. My favorite goalie is Martin Brodeur [former goaltender] of the NJ Devils.

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What do you like most about hockey?

Cathy: As I got older, I chose to only play hockey. I hung up my cleats (I am truly a much better softball player than goalie). But there is something that just pushes me to want to learn more and more, and practice and play as much hockey as I can possibly play before I have to hang up my pads. Goalies have a much shorter hockey lifespan than someone who skates out. Our knees tend to be the first things to go for us.

I like that when you get out on the ice, nothing else matters. All I think about is stopping the next puck shot at me.

Katie: I like playing as a team. I like all the friends I’ve made through the years, and I like going away to the tournaments. I really like just having fun out there.

What do you like least about the game?

Cathy: Injuries. I hate having to miss a game because I’m hurt. A couple of years back, I tore my MCL and extended my ACL. At the time of the collision I said to myself, OK, Cathy. Just get back up and you’ll be fine. The adrenaline will kick in. Well, I took one stride forward and went right back down. I literally missed one full year recovering.

Katie: When I’m not in my groove and off a little bit. Then it makes for a very long game.

How many teams do you play on?

Cathy: I currently play on three men’s teams. Also, being a goalie means you are asked to sub all the time. There are times guys from teams I haven’t heard of call me, asking me to sub for them (“so-and-so gave them my cell number”). Both male and female goalies are always in demand in beer league hockey.

Katie: Two teams: a boys’ Midget 18U team and a high school boys’ team.

As female goalies, how do you feel about playing in the men’s leagues? Tell us about the challenges.

Cathy: I love it. For me I find the game goes a lot quicker. The shots are also A LOT harder. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not that women can’t shoot, but men’s shots are sometimes just blisters. I feel a lot more of the shots as well, as I always buy my gear used and it already has a lot of wear on it. Because my daughter also plays she gets the new gear. So I sport a lot more bruises than usual.

The men are really good about me playing. When I first started playing, I think the guys thought because I was a girl they were just gonna light me up. But that just made me want to play that much more, and I got better and better. I think I earned their respect. I can hold my own out there now.

I do find that because I am a girl, my defenders are a lot more protective of me on the ice. But I can give it right back to them when they dish it out (although I do sound like a squeaky little Chihuahua out there). One of the nicknames the guys gave me is Little Beast. I like that one just fine.

Katie: I like playing with both the girls’ teams and the guys’ teams. The challenge is not really having a locker room to change in growing up; sometimes I dress in the hallway. Before the high school games I dress in another locker room, but then I have to wait to get called into the boys locker room to go over the coaches’ pregame stuff. Otherwise, I get treated pretty much like one of the guys on the ice.

Any other thoughts?

Cathy: I hope to be able to play hockey for many more years. The people that play hockey are amazing; indeed, they are like family. We are always looking out for each other, on and off the ice.

Katie: I just really love to play hockey and want to play in college when I graduate high school.

Cathy: Nothing at all makes me more proud than going to a hockey rink, sitting in the stands and watching my daughter out there in the crease. She can get the stuffing knocked out of her and then she is right back up there giving it right back. I am so proud of the young woman she is, and the tough hockey player she can be out there on the ice.

Cathy Lucido, a mother of 4, has a degree in computer science. She is currently working toward a degree in fashion with the goal of designing clothing for dogs.

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