Evelina Samuelsson Article

Evelina Samuelsson is going on thirteen and devotes most of her free time to dedicated and hard training to become an ice hockey player. She trains and plays in a boy's team simply because there is no equivalent hockeyschooling for girls in Sweden, or anywhere else for that matter. Not with the frequence of training and the physical pressure that she is exposed to when she shares the routines of the boys.

Evelina is a member of Arlanda Hockey Club, which is situated right by the Arlanda International Airport outside of Stockholm. The club has an impressive tradition of playing in the first national series, right below the elite clubs.

In order to be accepted in a dedicated hockeytraining when you are 6-7 years old you have to show great will and talent. Evelina did so, and was accepted to train and play with the boys on a fully equal basis. She is now into her fifth year and plays two major series, with her team. The series total around 60 matches during one season. One of them is said to be the most extensive boy's series in the world, Aftonbladet cup, which is played in the region of Stockholm from november until march every year.

From the start, when the boys(girl) are little, the training on ice goes on between august and april. During the summer they have a scheduled physics training. Many go to summer ice hockey school as well. During the season, there is a schedule of training and matches that more or less cover 5-6 out of 7 days a week.

When the players turn 16 the best ones go on to Junior hockey and are eventually picked out for the first division and the elite teams. Some of them are picked out for the NHL.

No other girl has played in the boy's teams in Arlanda Hockey before Evelina. Some have tried after she started, but have not succeded past the two-three first years. One of the reasons for the lack of girls is of course the attitude of some of the trainers in the club. Hans Andersson, who trains Team 84, and who has seen Evelina on ice since she was very little, says:

* There are some of the trainers who definitely disapprove of girls in boy's hockey. They simply mean that it is wrong to let a girl occupy a place in a team, when there are not enough room for boys who might be potential players in the future.

* They all point to the fact that girls in boy's teams will have to stop playing ice hockey after a couple or three years, as the boys will outgrow them. The effort of training them has been a waste. In the Arlanda region there is no Women's hockey, no systematic training for girls, who want to become players in the National Women's Hockey League. In all of Sweden, strangely enough, there are but few places where girls manage to get an ice hockey education. The absolute majority of the clubs are not inclined to give girls any room for their ambitions and sport interest. Hans Andersson just states this as a fact, but is soon to say:

* For my part I never have given these matters much thought. I met Evelina when she was very little and very angry and told me that she definitely did not want to become an ice princess. She was set on becoming a hockey player like her friends Billy, Patrik and Ottar. In fact, she planned on becoming better then them. Of course I included her in the team. Who could say to one of twenty five glowing seven year old kids on ice that she wasn't allowed'to be in the team because she was a girl? Especially when she handled a stick and a puck and the skates better than almost all the others? Hans Andersson goes through his statistics and shows that Evelina has been among the three top players on the scoring list every year. She still is this season, counting from august this year.

* I can see no sign of her falling back, he says.

* She has a tremendously well trained and strong body and the mental toughness of an athlete in a tough sport. He goes on to describe Evelina's strengths on ice and points out her qualities as a very quick, agile and technical player.

* Some of the boys are very big and weigh much more than her. But she compensates with a tremendous skating ability and a capacity to understand the game in every split second.

Hans Andersson has been a trainer for over ten years and has an impressiv education as a coach and trainer. He has seldom met a youth with such an ability as Evelina to concentrate on instruction and then go out on the ice and translate theory into practice.

* She never turns away from a battle and she never gives up. Evelina is as concentrated during training as she is when she plays a match. Not many of her teammates can equal her capacity to focus on the job. There are two national tests that the young hockeyplayers are put through when they are 14 and 15 years of age. The first is called The Sweden Puck, where the very best players are singled out to play in a national series. Players from a number of different large areas are assembled in teams of totally 25 boys. In order to take a place here you have to be a top player in your home team. Arlanda HC has over the years been able to send up to 7-8 players to the Uppland Team.

Of course there has never been just about no sight of any girl in these contexts. But Hans Andersson says:

* Judging from her status today, Evelina might very well be one of the players in the Upland Sweden Puck team. If she manages, she will be close to historic.

When Team 84 recently chose their captain, Evelina won almost all the votes. She represents her team at matches, shakes the hands of the referees, the leaders of the other teams and the often very surprised captain of the opponents. And only the teams that have met Arlanda's Team 84 count on having quite a nasty time with Evelina on the ice. Those who have never seen her before of course look forward to an easy battle. They are in for a surprise!

Of course there is quite a few hockeyparents, trainers and players in the region who have stared with great surprise when Evelina steps into the same lockerroom as her male friends! In fact she never has or will have her own space for change and showers. The routine is that she changes into her gear in a the same crowded room as her mates, where everybody steps on everybody, swears and behaves more or less like ice hockey boys do. Possibly one might notice a slightly milder tone in the changing quarters of team 84, compared to their colleagues in Arlanda HC. Evelina has always been there and one can notice that all the boys have been influenced by this fact. In a positive direvtion of course!

Evelina can choose if she wants to take her shower first or wait until the guys are ready.

* I usually take my time and wait for them to shower, she says and doesnt find it a bit difficult to share the little lockerspace with her sweatty and wound up teammates. When one asks Evelina if she ever senses the attitude of not being welcome in boy's hockey she answers:

* Not really, but I realise that I have to be among the very best, sometimes the best, otherwise I probably will be pressured to quit.

* But I intend to fight, I love ice hockey and I have chosen to skip gymnastics and handball, which I used to put a lot of effort into on the side. Until now, when the hockeytraining takes all my time. One dream is of course to be able to play hockey in Canada and the USA.

* I guess I'm no different from the boys, I too dream about the NHL, she says and laughs.

* At least I want to see how I would make out against the best women hockey players in the world one day. Evelina knows that there will come a time when she has to leave the boy's team, but she intends to stay with them as long as possible.

* I could never get this kind of training in a girl's team. There are a few girl hockey teams in the Stockholm area, and I guess that I could train somewhere else. But not until I definitely have to, and I intend to try to make it all the way to the TV-Puck when I am 15!

* It will be tough, her trainer Hans says, but adds:

* If any girl would make it today when the competition has become so hard, it will be Evelina. And I can guarantee you that in a few years she will be the best that the National Women's Hockeyleague of Sweden can boast with!

The above article was mailed to me by Ulla Skiden (peppelin@it.kth.se).

Pictures of Evelina

This page is maintained by © 1998 Andria Hunter (andria@whockey.com).

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