Birthdate: February 23rd, 1960 (Aruba, Dutch Antillen)
Hometown: Valkenburg van de geul, Netherlands
Height: 153 cm (5'1")
Weight: 52 kg (114 lbs)
Profession: Sports Teacher (Netherlands)
Hockey Coach (Switzerland)
Team(s): London Devilettes Sr AAA, COWHL
SC Lyss, Swiss National League A
Netherlands National Team
D.IJ.C. Falcon Girls (NL)
DEHC Biel Swiss National League A
EV Zug Damen Swiss National League A
Born on the little Caribbean Island Aruba in 1960, Marion had to wait to experience ice and snow until 1969 when her family moved back to Valkenburg a/d Geul, a very small town in the very south of the Netherlands. After a cold winter in 1976, she and her 3 year younger sister Irene, got the taste of skating and joined a figure skating club. In 1981 an ice arena was build almost beside their house and both sisters joined the women's hockey team which was grounded just a few weeks before. "The Falcon Girls" became a known name in the Dutch hockey scene and far beyond the borders. Although Marion and Irene are far over 30, they still play hockey; Irene in Valkenburg and Marion halfway across the World. Together they also play in the Dutch National Women's Team.
After 4 wins in 5 Dutch national championships with the Falcon Girls, Marion wanted a new challenge, and found that in Switzerland where she joined the SC Lyss Damen, the women's section of the Skating Club of Lyss, a little town near the countries capital Bern. Because the team had no coach that season, Marion was a player/coach during her first season in the LKA, the highest women's league in Switzerland. Till 1996 the team won 3 national championships and built up a team with a good mixture of young, talented players together with older, more experienced players. Together with some very good foreign players, SC Lyss Damen became one of the best teams in the LKA in the past years. Meanwhile Marion also started a coaching career; since 1991 she is a full-time coach for the "Nachwuchs" (Junior dept.) of the SC Lyss, where she is responsible for all players who are 10 years and younger. With help of some volunteers she teaches the kids of 3 teams(mostly boys) the basics of hockey, coach them in games and takes care of all organizing. She also assists the coaches of other Junior teams (11 and older), especially in power skating. Besides helping out in the Junior-boys-teams, she is also involved in girls' hockey, which is not very big in Switzerland. In 1995 SC Lyss Damen gave girls, who didn't play hockey at a very young age, the chance to learn the basics of the sport. Marion and some teammates were involved as coaches. Now these girls form a second team, together with girls who did start playing with boys at a very young age. Goal of this team : Play in a lower league and prepare the players for the first team, which is one of the best in Switzerland.
Season 96/97 Marion left Switzerland to play in Canada. She was a member of the Senior 'AAA' London Devilettes who played in the COWHL in Ontario. Invited by a Dutch-Canadian friend, she stayed in Cambridge for 10 months, where she helped the Cambridge Girls Hockey Ass. "Roadrunners" with power skating. Meanwhile she coached in summer-and winter hockey schools in Southern-Ontario as well. She also 'discovered' Inline Roller Hockey and joined the Toronto Tigers at the NARCh in Chicago in Aug '96, where they won the silver medal.
In September 97 Marion returned to Switzerland for her 7th season there. She joined the SC Lyss for her work as a coach with the juniors, but played for another LKA team in Biel, which is 15 km from Lyss. DHC Lyss (The Women separated from SC Lyss in 96 and grounded their own club.) seemed not to be interested in Marion playing in Lyss again, so she decided to join the women in Biel, who got up in the LKA this season. DEHC Biel also has a second girls' team in the LKC (3rd league) and a junior girlsdept (for girls up to 12 years old).
The season in Biel was not a succes. The majority of the players were technical and tactical not able to keep up with the level of the LKA. With just 2 points (2 ties) out of 20 games they went down to the B-League again.
In August 98 Marion came back to Switzerland and joined the EV ZUG Damen, the swiss champion of 97-98. Although Zug is an 1.5 hour drive from Lyss, she enjoys playing with these players who she just knew as opponents for many years before.
The season with EV Zug Damen turned out to be one of the best for Marion since she played in Switzerland. Although Zug won the championship the previous year, the team was not the favorite for the championship. Coachproblems and playertransfers made that not a lot of people believed that Zug would even play for the first spots. The first 2 games ended in a tie, fighting back after they were behind some goals. That happened a lot during the next games, but with exception of one game(against Lyss, with canadian hockeylegend France St. Louis), Zug won or tied the games. Marion also returned back on the scoringtrack, finishing 8th overall with 14 goals and 13 assists. The fact that there was no center-line offside anymore, she could use her speed to 'catch' some perfect transitionpasses from her teammates and score. And she learned what a 'hail Marypass' was!
On March 3rd EV Zug celebrated their 2nd Swiss championship, Marion got her 4th Swiss gold medal. Later in April, EV Zug Damen also won the BOSCHCUP, which is a central european championshiptournament for clubteams. Champions of Germany, Gr. Britain, Denmark, Chech. Rep., France, Italy and Switzerland were present. Marion still works as the coach of the Bambini and Piccolo, the youngest hockeyplayers of the SC Lyss. After some years of hard work, the results of the efforts, which were put in the skating- and hockeyschool, turned out to be very positive; a lot of new young hockeyplayers could be add to the youngest teams of the club.
During the summer '99 Marion visited Canada for a month: coaching in some women's hockeyschools and played Inlinehockey! Team Franklin had to less players during the CanAm Cup in Kitchener and she had her equipment with her, so 'Holland' on the floor. But even with 7 players it was a 'great bunch' of girls who won the final against Team Mission. It was a great time seeing a lot of people Marion met during her first stay in 96/97 in Ontario and she even met Wayne's father, Walther Gretzky!! Another highlight was visiting the Hunter-Ouellette Wedding where she met more 'old' friends and of course celebrate! Season 99/2000 Marion also will play in Zug, although the road to Zug is still 1,5 hours drive, but she loves to play in this team and has a lot of fun in hockey!
In 1987 Team Holland (an All-star team) participated in the First Women's World Hockey Tournament in North York, Toronto Canada. Although the N.IJ.B. (Dutch hockey federation gave their blessing, all players and coaches had to pay all cost of flight, hotel, food etc. themselves. But they were present at the start of International Women's Hockey and although they lost all their games, the Dutch team had a great time and never regret it.
For the first European Championships in 1989 in Germany, the Dutch had to play 2 qualifying games in and against Great Britain, which they both won with 4-2. Irene and Marion Pepels had a big part in those wins with 5 goals. During the European Tournament in Duesseldorf, Holland lost all their games and finished 8th. Irene Pepels was chosen Dutch MVP. In 1991 the European's was held in Czechoslovakia and again the Netherlands could not win a game and ended 10th. In 1993 the countries were divided in 2 groups; Pool A with the 6 best teams in Europe: Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and Germany. The Pool B consisted of: Ukraine, Czechoslovakia, Latvia, France, Great Britain and the Netherlands and was held in Kiev, Ukraine. Although the N.IJ.B. gave some financial support to the Women's team, there was no way to finance this trip,and the Dutch did not go. In 1995 Denmark organized the B Pool and the Dutch team made their comeback at the international scene after 4 years of absence. It was a positive experience and finally the Orange team won their first game in a international championship; they defeated Great Britain 7-2. On goal average (with Slovakia) they missed the bronze medal game and played for 5th place against France which they lost in overtime 4-3. Marion was chosen one of 3 Dutch MVP's. In 1996 the B Pool was hosted by Slovakia and again they played a good tournament. In their first game the Orange Team tied the Czech. Rep.(no. 3 of '95) with 4-4, with a dream start for Marion; after just 18 seconds she scored with a perfect backhand shot on a pass of her sister Irene. That appeared to be a good omen because after 4 games, 4-4 Czech. Rep.,1-3 Denmark, 7-1 Great Britain and 3-7 against France, Marion turned out to be the tournaments best scorer with 5 goals and 4 ass. Again Holland missed the bronze medal game; both Czech. Rep. and the Netherlands had a goal average of +4, but the Czechs scored 2 goals more(and 'cashed' 2 more) and went on to win the bronze medal. Marion and Irene still play for the Dutch team, although some players are half their age. They still enjoy the game and the team, and the team wants them to go on!! In all 35 international games, Marion and Irene were present in 34 of them. They are still the everlasting leaders in games and scores.
During the 96-97 season the dutch team did not play an international tournament because of the Worldchampionship A pool in Kitchener, but from the IIHF congress came good news: Starting in 98-99 there will be a worldchampionship A- and B-pool every year with 8 teams each. Because of their 16th place of the worldranking the Netherlands Team just made it to the B-pool. There was even a chance to qualify for the A pool but the 3 games against Chech Rep., France and Slovakia were lost in France in January 98. They all meet again in France, March 99 for the first B-pool championship; the other teams are: Norway, Japan, Latvia and Denmark. Goal of the Netherlands girls is to finish 7th and so keep their spot in the B-pool.
Beside the love for the game itself, meeting other hockey players and officials at tournament and games halfway across the world is for Marion another important aspect that comes with this wonderful sport. Without these long lasting friendships, the 'game' would not be the same!!!
As expected the 1st Worldchampionship B-Pool in Colmar didn't bring much success for the dutch women. Just against Slovakia Holland was able to demonstrate that there was some system in their play, during the rest of the games they were too much under pressure and played defensive most of the time. But international coaches still talk about the dutch way of 'killing a penalty' , which was very simple: If you keep the puck in your possession in your own end, the other team can't score! Some coaches 'freaked out', because when their team finally got the puck, the penalty was over! The hungarian coach of the Netherlands did a fine job learning these systems. Offcourse it didn't worked everytime, otherwise the Netherlands would had better results, now they lost all of their games. They finished 8th, losing 7-8 against Slovakia for 7th place, which was their goal. But also the 7th ranked team would move down to the C-Pool, the B-Qualification in 2000, which is held in Hungary in March.
Sister Irene didn't belong to a team during the season '98/'99; The Falcon Girls from Valkenburg (Marion's 'old' team) 'died' after 18 years of presence at the national and international womenshockeyscene.L Thought Irene played well in the dutch team(team's best scorer in Colmar) she missed playing in a team and season 99/2000 she will join the Womensteam from the Smoke Eaters in Geleen, 15 km away from Valkenburg.
Bad news in the summer: Their hungarian nationalteamcoach had to return to Hungary due tragic familycircumstances, so the team and the federation had to find a new coach again; the 4th in 5 years. The goal of the team in 2000: return to the B-Pool, which means win or runner-up in the Qualification Tournament.
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