Hockey has often been an intimidating sport for LGBTQA+ athletes. Stereotypically masculine cultural associations and homophobic slang guised as “locker room talk” have often been the culprits for making hockey more inclusive.
Although inclusiveness in sport has improved over the past few decades, ongoing stigma (both real and perceived) continues to be a barrier for LGBTQA+ individuals, particularly when it comes to being out and proud athletes. Challenges in hockey have been well known for years, but for Edmonton, it wasn’t until July 2019 when Brett Stamm decided to tackle them head on by creating Edmonton Rage – a safe space both on and off the ice.
Edmonton Rage is Edmonton’s first hockey team that strives to bring LGBTQA+ athletes and their allies together with the mission of providing safe, inclusive spaces for Edmonton athletes. Particularly, to derive the benefits of exercise and camaraderie through their chosen sport of ice hockey. The team joins the ranks of Calgary’s ‘Pioneers’, Vancouver’s ‘Cutting Edges’, Toronto’s Gay Hockey Association, Montreal’s ‘Dragon’, and the Halifax ‘Mussels’ in a growing movement towards improved LGBTQA+ representation in the sport.
At first, Edmonton Rage was just a handful of forward-thinking players with a common vision of inclusive hockey and a goal of breaking down barriers to increase accessibility to the sport. Over time, their roster grew to include an enthusiastic set of spares, inspiring the potential for its collective to be more than just a hockey team. The group began to attract top-tier corporate sponsors, including West Edmonton Mall, Evolution Wonderlounge, McDonald’s Canada, Pride Tape, Westcan Bulk Transport, and Decal Doctorz – each has contributed to the team’s positive community impact.
Eventually, Edmonton Rage expanded its mandate to encompass community outreach initiatives both on and off the ice. At home in West Edmonton Mall’s Mayfield Ice Palace, the team hosts free community skates, which include helmet/skate rentals and even open shinny games. Their initiatives encourage all players of backgrounds and skating abilities to participate, giving back to the community and introducing Edmonton to the team’s LGBTQA+ inclusive mission.
Off the ice, Edmonton Rage has numerous events in the works, including a much-anticipated Battle of Alberta scheduled for February 1st 2020, where they’ll take on the Calgary Pioneers at West Edmonton Mall and then host an after-party at Evolution Wonderlounge.
Since its inception, Edmonton Rage has managed to connect players of any background with an athletic community that is free of discrimination or intimidation. The team hopes to continue their efforts by attracting an even greater diversity of athletes. Edmonton Rage President Brett Stamm notes that the team has brought together all types of players since its inception: new athletes, those who had not felt comfortable on traditional teams, and players who had even quit hockey because of their previously unwelcoming experiences. Stamm hopes that as inclusive awareness continues to grow, Edmonton Rage will be a source of strength and diversity within the hockey community; a safe and bully-free space where anyone is welcome. Without a doubt, the team’s recent successes and growing support are a sign that Edmonton Rage will continue to build on their mission of equality and inclusivity in sport.
Edmonton Rage can be found on Facebook (@EdmontonRageHockey), Instagram (@edmonton_rage), the web (www.edmontonrage.ca), and on Team Edmonton’s website (https://www.teamedmonton.ca). This fantastic organization facilitates connections between athletes and their sporty allies for curling, badminton, water polo, and more.