Emily Pfalzer, 22, has always loved playing ice hockey most of her life. She played as a kid, in high school, and in college. Now Pfalzer skates for the Buffalo Beauts in the National Women’s Hockey League: (NWHL). The professional sports organization started in 2015, and is about to begin to start its second season. The NWHL is the first American league to pay women to play ice hockey. It is also one of the few professional women’s sports leagues so far.
“It’s been amazing to be able to keep playing at a high level after college,” Pfalzer told TFK. Her team is one out of four in the NWHL.
The four teams are based out of Northeast. The athletes are paid in a small salary. They compete only on weekends because most players have other jobs. “My dream,” Pfalzer says, “is to play in the Olympics some day soon”.
Dani Rylan is the founder and started of the NWHL. Like Pfalzer, she played hockey as a child and in college and always dreamed of this life as a ice hockey player. Rylan started the NWHL because she saw that many of her teammates wanted to keep competing after college but didn’t have a shot at it. That only made her work even harder at trying to the best she could be.
“It’s been so exciting to get the league off the ground and to watch our fan base grow,” Rylan says. “We have had a lot of support and encouragement” and that’s a lot of what you need around you at all times. Having an supportive fan base can really make a difference.
The NWHL gets funded from the individual and corporate sponsors, such as, Dunkin’ Donuts. Games draw boisterous crowds. Fans can also watch games live on YouTube.
Rylan hopes to expand the league and add new teams. She also wants to continue providing opportunities and role models for young women and girls who want to play the game, and to not give up in what you believe in.
“A lot of young girls come to the games,” Pfalzer says. “It’s so important to show girls that women can play ice hockey too.”