Friday, 14 March 2014

I Admire Her

That looks pretty good, doesn't it? Shannon Szabados chose her new number on Wednesday as she officially became part of the SPHL's Columbus Cottonmouths, and while it's not her familiar #1, I have to say that I like her in #40. She tweeted out her reason for the number which I've posted below, but she could have worn any number and I'd still admire her for her abilities and her chance to become a bigger hero than she already is. There won't be many words in this article as it will contain mostly pictures and embedded tweets, but I admire Shannon Szabados. She's genuinely awesome.

Not to bring Mr. Ranford down in any way, but Szabados' #40 looks better. Maybe it's because Ranford caused me nightmares as he stonewalled the Winnipeg Jets in the 1980s, but, in any case, here's Bill Ranford in his Detroit playing days wearing #40.
Moving on from there, Shannon took to the ice on Thursday and was welcomed with open arms by her new teammates. The men seemed to enjoy having her in net, and she held her own in terms of stopping the puck in practice. While game situations may be different, seeing Szabados perform well in practice is a good sign that she's probably ready for this new chapter.

I was already a fan of Shannon Szabados thanks to her incredible resumé that includes her international achievements while playing for Canada. While she is certainly carving out a path that hasn't been seen before that will undoubtedly lead to many opportunities for women in the future, that's only part of why I admire her.

The big reason is her humbleness about the whole situation. "I wish it was just go out there and skate and nobody notices me," she told Karen Crouse of The New York Times. For her, it's not a gals-vs-guys thing or her being the first woman to do anything. She just wants to play hockey, and be known for her skills. That's why I admire her.

She will start against Knoxville tomorrow night, and she will be added to the history books for this achievement. Whether she win or loses won't matter to some, but it will matter to Shannon Szabados because she's a professional by trade, not because she signed a contract. As for whether this is a long-term career move, that will obviously depends on how she does, but there's no reason to expect she won't face this challenge like all others.

As for being a woman in a man's world in the SPHL, people should get used to seeing the 27 year-old playing with Cottonmouths. "They better," Kyle Johnson, former NAIT teammate and current Cottonmouth teammate, told Crouse, "because she's here and she's staying."

Game time tomorrow night against the Knoxville Ice Bears is scheduled for 7:30pm ET at the Columbus Civic Center. The Snakes have already clinched a playoff berth and are seventh in the SPHL standings, two points behind Knoxville, so this game will have a playoff feel to it. If you want to listen to the game, it should be available here. You know what I'll be listening to tomorrow night!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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