Abbott and Costello had their classic routine, “Who’s on first?”
The women who play on HUH?, a pond hockey team based in Rochester, Minn., have their own routine.
“The fun thing about our team name is that it’s a lot of fun when you aren’t wearing your jersey and people ask, ‘What’s your team’s name?’” captain Jennifer Schubert said. “You say ‘HUH?’ And they repeat the question again.
“Sometimes, you can get them going for a while before they realize that’s actually the name of the team.”
Which it is.
“Originally, we couldn’t come up with a team name,” Schubert said. “And somebody said, ‘Why not come up with a question mark?’”
HUH? has competed in the Labatt Blue/USA Hockey Pond Hockey National Championships since 2009.
“Another team, Six Pack on Ice, went the previous year,” Schubert said. “They came back and said ‘You really should go because it’s a nice time.’ Iris Luoto and Phoebe Peterson were the ones who really encouraged us to enter.
“I started looking for players. I asked other ladies and they said, ‘Yes.’ We had such a great time that we go up every year.”
In fact, three women have made the trek to Eagle River for each of the previous five tournaments: Schubert, who’s a nurse at the Mayo Clinic; Jenny Anders, who works in a lab at the Mayo Clinic; and Danna Adair, a mother of four who teaches at a day-care center.
Other team members who’ve played in the last three tournaments include Karen Shreve, Chantal Beaulieu and Kari Schmidt.
“The first year was a culture shock because none of us had ever skated outside,” Schubert said. “We didn’t practice outside or go to outdoor rinks. We went from skating indoors to outdoors and the ice was completely different.
“It was very challenging. The temperature was minus-20 with a wind chill factor of minus-45. But it was warmer this year so we were able to stick around and watch other teams, which was a lot of fun.”
HUH? competed in the Bronze Division in 2009. But when a Beginners Division was added in 2010, the team dropped down to what it felt was a more appropriate skill level.
“Our age range is 27 to 45,” Schubert said. “We found a lot of Bronze teams had high school players who really beat us up.
“We won a grand total of one game in the first four years, and we only scored three goals in three games that first year.”
The team’s goal in 2013 was to win enough games to reach the finals and to score more goals than it had in the previous four years.
Mission accomplished, more or less.
HUH? split four games and scored a total of 21 goals.
“We were stoked that we reached the semifinals,” Schubert said. “We beat the Mighty Pylons in our second game. Our semifinal was Sunday morning and they were there to cheer us on at 7:30.
“It was great to see that type of camaraderie.”
But there’s more to the team than scoring goals and winning games.
“There are moms that are working full time,” Schubert said. “Some of us work at the Mayo Clinic. We have a lot of home commitments, so it’s a nice break to get away for a weekend, hang out and leave all that day-to-day life behind.”
When the women aren’t played in the Pond Hockey Nationals, they play in the Return of the Robin League on weekends in Rochester.
Tournaments also are on their schedule, especially the Stick it to Cancer Tournament in Blaine, Minn., where the purpose is to raise money for the fight against breast cancer.
But there’s no question where HUH? will be when the 2014 Pond Hockey Championships commence.
“I don’t have to question my ladies about wanting to go,” Schubert said. “It’s always, ‘Yes, we want to go.’ We reserve our rooms the day we check out for next year.
What really impressed Schubert was the number of women who competed in the 2013 Pond Hockey Championships.
“That really was surprising to me,” she said. “Our first year, there were about 20 teams, and now there are about 40. Obviously, we hope women’s hockey continues to grow.
“For us to have a place to go and play hockey is great. In fact, we’re already talking about taking another team next year.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.