“She’s a real trailblazer” – The Athletic

Fran Rider has loved hockey for as long as she can remember.

She grew up as a fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs during the Original Six days and “never missed a minute of a game” whether on the radio, on TV or when she got to look in the flesh in the legendary gardens. Rider also attended many of his brother’s minor hockey games for Humber Valley. She took up figure skating because finding a women’s hockey team proved impossible.

It wasn’t until 1967, when she was in her mid-teens – either 15 or 16 – that the opportunity to try the sport came. She saw an article in the “Toronto Telegram” newspaper noting that a women’s tournament in nearby Brampton was starting and players were needed.

“We had a 7-year-old and a 44-year-old in the team. It was pretty amazing,” Rider recalled. “But we were playing hockey. Everyone was so excited. And we played with checking, which is quite interesting.

Rider was impressed with some of her peers on the ice. Once the euphoria passed, she began to think more critically.

“When I saw the players, I thought, ‘Why isn’t this known? Why aren’t these players known?’ we needed a world championship, we need women’s hockey at the Olympics and we need professional women’s hockey.

“It didn’t make sense that it wasn’t there for me.”

Since then, she has made the advancement of women’s hockey her life’s work.

Rider has been a driving force behind the sport’s growth for decades. She helped found the Ontario Women’s Hockey Association.

Earnest L. Veasey