Hockey is undeniably Canada’s game. But as a sport, it isn’t exactly heralded for its inclusiveness. That’s why the Women’s Hockey Club of Toronto is a breath of fresh air. Since its inception in 1993, it has grown into the largest lesbian hockey league in North America.

“It was started by a handful of lesbians who wanted to be themselves, play hockey and socialize,” says long-time collective member, Janice Martin (who documented the history of the club here). It has run every year for 23 years, and is now in its 24th season.

There are currently 12 teams of 15 people (approximately 180 women). “Over the years the league grew to 14 teams, then to 12 for the past few years,” says Martin. “Over time, the older players are retiring and there is a new wave of younger players, who, now with more opportunities for women in hockey, are coming to the league with a higher skill level than previously.”

She describes the club as a rec league. “The games are reffed, non-contact, non-slapshot, with a wide range in age and skill level. Although it used to be common for absolute beginners to play in the league, now that there’s an increase in skill level, it is best that new players at least know how to stop before playing, for their own and other’s safety.”

The best part? It’s always a good time. “As an ‘older’ and less skilled player myself,” says Martin, “I love that I can play in this league and not feel sidelined amid younger and better players. I can have fun, try my best and still be part of the team, in a league whose focus is on FUN, socializing and giving back (WHCT regularly donates to local, often women-focused charities).”

For more information on the club and how to join, visit here.