Blue Jackets focus on growing, educating female fan base
“Girls understand the game of hockey just as much as the guys.”
what Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nathan Horton believes–and what the
organization sought to support Saturday night at the third annual
Hockey ‘n’ Heels.
all the conversations and information, this is a lot better than being
in an autograph line,” said Blue Jacket season ticket holder Vanessa
Heels” was held prior to the Dec. 15 game versus the St. Louis Blues.
Over 100 women — and a handful of men — showed up to spend a few hours
with guests who represented all facets of the game.
really like hearing the perspective of the front office, players and
officials,” said Garvin. “I can collect info from Internet and other
places, but hearing from the real source is a great
General Manager Jarmo Kekalainen was the event’s first guest speaker. He
knows hockey is a sport both men and women support.
more women engaged with hockey and helping them understand the whole
picture helps the entire sport,” Kekalainen said.
has two daughters, and while they haven’t yet expressed interest in
playing hockey they love to watch it. Kekalainen looks forward to
encouraging them towards any sport that might interest them. That’s the
same approach he brought to Saturday’s event.
event) is not just about getting people in the stands,” Kekalainen
said. “There are lots of ways for women to get engaged with hockey –
it’s women who want to play, mothers whose children play hockey and
women who follow the sport.”
addition to hearing from Kekalainen, the event brought in former Jacket
and current Team Ambassador Jody Shelley, Assistant Coach Dan Hinote,
officials for the evening’s game and Jackets’ forward, Nathan
included people of all hockey knowledge levels, including Kathy Carson
from Newark, who was ready to see her first professional hockey
“My friend said it would be a great time and I wanted to learn more about hockey,” Carson said.
works with a number of hockey fans and she wanted to finally be able to
join in the conversation about the sport. Saturday’s event gave her the
opportunity to ask a question about the Jackets’ AHL team, the
think it’s great the Jackets hold this event specifically for women,”
Carson said. “It shows a lot of respect and consideration and I think
attendees agreed. Jessica Jones is a season ticket holder who came to
love hockey when the Jackets were established in 2000. She was attending
her second Hockey ‘n’ Heels event this year.
year we learn something new,” Jones said. “Even though we’ve been
coming to games for 10+ years, every Hockey ‘n’ Heels we learn something
someone who not only enjoys the event, she’s been encouraging other
women to come — some of whom now hold ticket packages for Jackets
“I think it’s
really important to get women in the stands,” Jones said. “Hockey isn’t
just a man’s sport. This helps break that
throughout the evening ranged from hockey basics to more advanced topics
including everything from who is the biggest prankster on the roster to
how to practice, Jackets’ conditioning plans and the impact of the
upcoming Olympics on NHL teams.
who also plays adult league hockey, was enthusiastic about the
spotlight the event puts on the female fan
thought the Jackets did not have a female fan base,” Garvin said. “The
Jackets know women are involved in the sport of hockey, otherwise there
wouldn’t be so many here tonight.”
took home a goodie bag that included an event themed mug, a Meyers
Jewelers gift certificate as well as a ticket to Saturday’s game. But
the intangible takeaways were perhaps more
this event is for women, it builds a really supportive environment,”
Garvin said. “People can ask all kinds of questions without
See the Blue
Jackets in action tonight against the Winnipeg Jets at 7 p.m. For more
information or to buy tickets, visit