Two Minutes for Reading so Good

OFFSIDE fills in the ?gap’ in women’s hockey history

Two Minutes for Reading so Good

Greg Oliver


OFFSIDE fills in the ?gap’ in women’s hockey history

Posted October 09, 2019

Viewed 181 times

Offside

The writing of OFFSIDE - A Memoir - Challenges Faced by Women in Hockey was helped immeasurably by the fact that its subject, Rhonda Leeman Taylor, kept volumes of paperwork from her pioneering days as a mover and shaker in hockey.

Leeman Taylor’s contributions to women’s hockey, from organizing girls’ leagues across Ontario, working with the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association (OWHA), and as the first woman to sit on the board of directors of the Canadian Amateur Hockey Association (CAHA, now Hockey Canada), are undeniable, but would have been hard to quantify without the paperwork.

To work on her memoir, Leeman Taylor hired her great-niece, Denbeigh Whitmarsh, and the box of goodies became the key factor in many of the discussions. “The whole time I was doing hockey, I knew that it was groundbreaking,” said Leeman Taylor. “So I saved everything that I could, correspondence, things like that. I always wanted to write a book, but I’m not a great writer. I have the thought process, but I needed some help.”

The help was family. “She'd call and I’d go through the box of memorabilia, and she’d tell me all the information and all the stories,” recalled Whitmarsh.

The result is a self-published book, out October 5th, through Amazon, Kobo, Kindle, iBooks, or perhaps in a bookstore near you. They opted not to go with a regular publisher—there was some interest—simply because they wanted to get the book out this fall.

Currently a student at Montreal’s McGill University, studying French Literature, Whitmarsh found herself trying to grasp how different the times were, just back in the late 1970s into the 1990s.

“I kind of accepted what went on back then, because I had my goal, and I just accepted the obstacles and got my way around them or over them. But now, when I look back at it, I’m like, ?Oh my God, that wasn’t right,’” said Leeman Taylor. “Then I’m talking with Denbeigh, who’s next generation, and she’s saying, ?Oh my God, Auntie Rhonda, I can't believe that you tolerated that kind of mentality.’ It was so funny, because ... when Denbeigh was writing a couple of the chapters, you could almost see that she was pounding the keys through the keyboard out of the frustration that I probably felt at the time.”

Whitmarsh won’t exactly say that the keyboard took a beating, but will admit to being frustrated. “Looking at it in today’s mindset, some of the discrimination and challenges that she had to go through were so blatantly wrong, and yet everybody just accepted it back then. Looking at it now, it was crazy to think about how recent that really was, and how much we've come since then—but then again, so much we have to go.”

There have been other books on women’s hockey, such as Brian McFarlane’s Proud Past, Bright Future: One Hundred Years of Canadian Womens Hockey, and On the Edge: Women Making Hockey History, by Elizabeth Etue and Megan K. Williams, as well as books on the likes of Angela Ruggiero, Hayley Wickenheiser, Angela James, and Manon Rheaume, but this an important documentation of an important person.

 Rhonda Leeman Taylor
Rhonda Leeman Taylor

Rhonda Leeman was born in Kingston, Ontario in 1953, and followed her brothers into hockey, beginning in 1969, with the Kingston Red Barons women’s hockey team. She also played at Queen’s University, from 1973 to 1976. By 1979, she was helping to grow the women’s game, and was involved with the OWHA until 1992. Among her accomplishments was organizing the first Women’s Canadian National Hockey Tournament (the first of its kind globally), and setting up the Female Council for women’s hockey with the help of the CAHA.

But life isn’t all accomplishments, and Leeman Taylor (her married name) suffered a life-altering spinal injury playing hockey in a local women’s league in 2004. She had to sue Hockey Canada for insurance claims to support her recovery. Though suffering from chronic pain, Leeman Taylor, works in human resources, based in Newmarket, Ontario.

OFFSIDE tells the story of Leeman Taylor, but also covers some of the other names in women’s hockey, from the well-known, like Fran Rider, to the should-be-better known, like Katherine “Cookie” Cartwright, a Kingston lawyer. “She got approached by the Ministry of Culture and Recreation to actually organize and set up the OWHA,” said Leeman Taylor of Cartwright.

“Everybody thinks it was Fran who organized it, but it wasn’t Fran, it was Cookie, who really started it all,” added Whitmarsh.

“If you look at any of the history of women’s ice hockey, there’s a gap, and that gap is the gap where I was active in doing my activities,” said Leeman Taylor. “The historians in hockey are really looking forward to the book coming out.”

With the book done, Leeman Taylor and Whitmarsh are working together to spread the word, from speaking engagements, to hopefully getting the book onto sports history reading lists in universities. Leeman Taylor has arranged for the Society for Human Resource Management to have the book available as an optional reading choice when HR people are re-certifying. “We’re also talking about a women’s movement in this book,” she said.

Keyed into the current social media world, Whitmarsh works on the website, the blog and video-blog, the Facebook and Twitter pages, and she sees it all as “content to go around the book” which will “speak a little bit about the process.” The hope is that “ambassadors” who are active in women’s hockey will promote the project as well.

After all, they have not forgotten their roots. A portion of sales—$1 per physical book, 50 cents for ebooks—will go to Grindstone Award Foundation (https://grindstoneaward.com/), “a foundation that helps young girls that can’t afford to play hockey, to pay their registration or to get equipment.”

“We're giving back to the women’s hockey program,” vowed Leeman Taylor, who has never really stopped giving to women’s hockey.

For more on OFFSIDE - A Memoir - Challenges Faced by Women in Hockey and Rhonda Leeman Taylor, head to their website: https://rhondaleemantaylor.com

Denbeigh Whitmarsh and Rhonda Leeman Taylor
Denbeigh Whitmarsh and Rhonda Leeman Taylor

Viewed 181 times

Go to top
Archives

OFFSIDE fills in the ?gap’ in women’s hockey history
Posted October 09, 2019

Saving hockey the noble goal of Before The Lights Go Out
Posted September 30, 2019

The modest empire of DeMarco’s "Small Saves" goaltender
Posted September 25, 2019

Farris' It Takes 23 to Win really '5 books in 1'
Posted September 20, 2019

CBC Radio's Jeremy Allingham explores 'Human Cost of Fighting'
Posted September 03, 2019

Victoria hockey book a long time coming
Posted August 19, 2019

Beers and books with Goldie and Liam
Posted June 14, 2019

Book on Kansas City Scouts a real Treasure
Posted May 28, 2019

Exploring Seattle's rich hockey history
Posted May 13, 2019

The unappreciated Lionel Hitchman and George Orton
Posted April 29, 2019

Addicted to Hockey, in Any Format
Posted April 13, 2019

The Stanley Cup and Kate's hockey greatness
Posted April 01, 2019

Writing and illustrating about hockey for developing readers
Posted March 17, 2019

Johnston and Walter re-team with more Plays and Strategies
Posted March 03, 2019

More Orr and Rangers via self-published books
Posted February 18, 2019

The overachieving 1978-79 Rangers get their due
Posted February 06, 2019

Commito delivers a year's worth of hockey stories
Posted January 16, 2019

Ending the year with the bestselling Kirstie McLellan Day
Posted December 30, 2018

Feel Good Book of the Year
Posted December 16, 2018

New Oilers book will have fans gushing
Posted December 05, 2018

Legend of Johnny Bower lives on
Posted November 20, 2018

Baruchel puts his love of hockey onto the page
Posted November 06, 2018

Going Back to 1993 Again
Posted October 24, 2018

Down Goes Brown found time for a book
Posted October 09, 2018

Getting to know Bob Chrystal
Posted September 25, 2018

Five S's: Steven Sandor's Sports Stories showcased
Posted September 12, 2018

Let's hear from the moms
Posted August 29, 2018

Good as Goldham
Posted July 19, 2018

Keeping the WHA memory alive
Posted July 03, 2018

The Price is right
Posted June 19, 2018

Take off with the Flying Fathers
Posted June 06, 2018

Considering those general managers
Posted May 24, 2018

The Russian Five come alive in print and film
Posted May 11, 2018

The 'number' of Rangers books grows
Posted April 25, 2018

MacGregors deliver hockey magic
Posted April 13, 2018

When it's not just a hockey book
Posted March 20, 2018

Textbook Goaltending
Posted March 08, 2018

Denis Gibbons, international man of hockey
Posted February 21, 2018

The ever-compelling tale of the 1948 RCAF Flyers
Posted February 07, 2018

From Manitoba to Latvia
Posted January 23, 2018

Listen up, it's a Hull of a story
Posted January 10, 2018

What a century/year it's been
Posted December 27, 2017

Won't Somebody Think of the Children
Posted December 12, 2017

A Hat Trick of Self-Published Gems
Posted November 30, 2017

Resurrecting the California Golden Seals
Posted November 13, 2017

Dryden Returns to Action
Posted November 01, 2017

Maruk's Highs and Lows
Posted October 19, 2017

Father Knows Best(seller?)
Posted October 03, 2017

Deep in the Heart of Texas
Posted September 21, 2017

The Cat and his Rangers
Posted September 04, 2017

Bien sûr, c'est bien plus que les Canadiens
Posted August 22, 2017

The Sound and the Fury in Hockey Audiobooks
Posted August 09, 2017

Zweig Busy, Marshall almost Ready and Denault on the Mend
Posted July 20, 2017

Stocking the Shelf
Posted July 09, 2017



Feedback

As always, I welcome your suggestions, notes, and feedback on other books and authors to feature here. You can email me at goliver845@gmail.com and you can follow me on Twitter @gregmep. For info on my own books, see OliverBooks.ca