Ask Maealie Glanzer what she loves about playing hockey and you will get two distinct reasons.
"Everyone's friendly on all the teams, super nice," says Maealie, 12, who plays for two teams, the all-girls 12U Seattle Junior Lady Admirals as a center and the Whatcom County Amateur Hockey Association Warriors 12U co-rec team on defense. "I like how you can play a season with teammates and become the closest friends."
The other attraction for Maealie started early, wthe hen she first learned to skate at four-and-a-half years old: "What interested me is I liked the contact," says Maealie. "I like the physicality of the game."
"For Christmas that year, we gave Maealie any type of lessons she wanted," says Carrie Glanzer, Maealie's mom. "She said skating. We enrolled her in the Learn to Skate program in Bellingham. She was one of those kids that when she fell down, she didn't want any help getting up. She would say [to the coaches], 'I got this.' "
Maealie finished the beginner's program with the highest marks. Carrie and husband/dad Brandon said, "Great, you want to sign up for figure skating?"
"Maealie laughed and shook her head," says Carrie. "She said, 'No, I want a stick and a helmet.' I said I don't know if they let four-and-a-half-year-old girls play hockey. But the coaches in Bellingham told us, 'if Maealie can skate, she can play.' "
The love affair with skates and sticks and helmets continues. Maealie was outfitted with new gear before this season (both of her teams are back practicing and playing some games, following all pandemic protocols), including a new pair of skates. But a recent visit to a skate shop has Maealie daydreaming about a certain new pair of skates she wants "really badly."
The daydream might come true. That's because Maealie is the first local recipient of a Black Girl Hockey Club scholarship. BGHC has awarded scholarships to girls across the U.S. and Canada to help support a family's costs for their daughters to play. Maealie won a $1,000 equipment scholarship based on her application and essay, which included her hope to inspire other Black girls and boys to try the sport. Since Maealie's parents purchased gear before the season, BGHC allowed that Maealie could use a portion of the funds for tournaments or hockey camp too.
Maealie was adopted by the Glanzers (she has three sisters) as a two-year-old living in Uganda. The family takes trips back to her African home and both Maealie and her mom say it is hard to explain ice rinks and hockey to relatives and community members.
"It's very hard to explain to them what ice skates are," says Maealie, smiling. "And even harder to describe why I like the physicality."
Even so, everyone who loves Maealie can admire her goals for her hockey future.
"I want to continue to get better every season," says Maelie, who currently helps coach two younger age-group co-rec teams. "I want to represent the USA in the Olympics and I would then like to play for one of the six National Women's Hockey League teams. After that, I would love to become a coach. It's good to have goals."
To learn more about Black Girl Hockey Club, take the "Get Uncomfortable" pledge, or donate, please visit blackgirlhockeyclub.org. To purchase a BGHC x Kraken beanie, please visit the Kraken Team Store.