An organization dedicated to making hockey more inclusive for LGBTQ players in Nova Scotia is starting a new league this fall.
David Lewis, who runs Queer Hockey Nova Scotia, is one of the organizers of the league expected to start in September and run until March.
Lewis said the league will provide members of the LGBTQ community and their allies a safe and comfortable place to play.
He said his organization has been seeing more queer individuals becoming interested in playing in their own league.
"Hockey has had some negative aspects towards queer individuals and some have been kind of scared away from the sport even though they loved it," said Lewis.
"So we're just trying to find a safe space where they can develop the skills and most of all have fun on and off the ice."
He said the organization has made a call out for people who want to join the new league, and in less than a week, there's enough interest to support four teams.
"We would love to play on a regular basis and have some competitiveness," he said. "Pickup [hockey] is great and we have a lot of fun, especially with our music selection, but we really want to have regulated games for us to play at least once a week."
Lars Glofcheskie is a player planning to join the league. They have been playing hockey since they were 12 years old.
Glofcheskie also played intramural hockey in university and they'd often be the only person changing in the women's locker-room.
"I'd sit alone in the change room and I'd go home alone … it was definitely very isolating and I'd intended to stop playing hockey after a couple years of that," they said.
Lars Glofcheskie, who has been playing hockey since they were 12 years old, will be joining the new league. (Lars Glofcheskie)
Glofcheskie said they have been playing women's hockey in recent years, but they appreciate the opportunity to play in an inclusive environment.
"Half of hockey [for me] is the ability to kind of develop a comfortable relationship with my body because I'm not necessarily the most comfortable in my body in the first place as a result of being trans," they said.
"But the other half of it is being able to develop a family or sort of a comfortable space in hockey. And that's why I've had a lot of luck with that out here, which has been fantastic."
Lewis said the league will be draft style to accommodate different skill levels.
Queer Hockey Nova Scotia is a LGBTQ organization that hosts pickup games and community events. (Queer Hockey Nova Scotia)
"We have some that are brand new to hockey," said Lewis.
"We have some like myself who have played since I was four years old and never took a break. And we have others that have taken breaks upwards of 30 years off the ice between the last time they played and when they've joined our organization."
Michelle Chapple is a player interested in joining the league. Chapple said playing with regular leagues isn't inherently bad, but has left her feeling quite guarded in the past.
"Did somebody hit me because they're just getting aggressive with hockey, or did they hit me because I'm wearing a queer hockey jersey, so therefore I have a target on my back," said Chapple.
"You don't get that in Pride."
Lewis said the league is still in the planning stages and he expects some hurdles, including securing ice time due to the limited number of rinks in the Halifax region.
The league is open to suggestions from the community about a name.
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