Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

One Hockey Mom's Rinkside Regimen - and Views of Sarah Palin

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

One Hockey Mom's Rinkside Regimen - and Views of Sarah Palin

Article excerpt

When Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin burst onto the political scene as John McCain's running mate, it was probably fitting that the self- proclaimed hockey mom's acceptance speech was made inside a hockey arena in Minnesota. The Republican convention was held at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, where a giant banner hanging from the ceiling proclaims Minnesota as "The State of Hockey."

A few miles away from the arena, another hockey mom is preparing to pack, drive, shiver, and cheer for her two children as another season begins in a state that, as the banner says, is crazy about the sport.

Theresa Burgess is sitting at the kitchen table of her family's home in a new subdivision of Farmington, a rapidly growing suburb of Minneapolis and St. Paul, talking about hockey and hockey moms. At the center of the table is a collection of buttons that bear photos of her kids in their hockey uniforms.

"You have to be willing to shuffle them around everywhere, you have to like the game, you have to like seeing the sport being played," she says. "You don't mind being cold because ice arenas are always cold. You're in it to see your kids do well, but it isn't always about winning. You've got to lose, too."

Hockey is a major activity for the Burgess family. Daughter Katie, 14, is a ninth-grader whose Farmington High School team qualified for last season's Minnesota state tournament. Son Ryan, 11, is a fifth-grader; he and Katie have been playing hockey for six years.

Theresa works part time as a teacher's aide at Meadowview Elementary School and her husband, Greg, is a Minnesota state trooper. Theresa has a sister who lives in Palmer, Alaska, a short drive from Wasilla, the town that has become almost as famous as that state's governor.

"I'm not into politics at all," Theresa Burgess says. "What I know is what I see on TV and I read a little bit in the newspaper. My sister has sent us some articles on [Palin]. She said she did not vote for her. I don't know the reasoning behind that, but to each their own. Truthfully, I think having a woman in the White House would be great."

During Palin's speech in St. Paul, she described herself as "an average hockey mom," adding the now famous line, "You know what they say the difference is between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick!"

Soon after the speech, a political website called Hockey Moms for McCain-Palin was launched. But it was preceded by another site, www.hockeymoms.com, which was started in the Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta, in October 2007 by hockey moms who wanted to share tips and advice with others. A wide variety of topics can be found on the website, including equipment, fundraising, hockey theme parties, and recipes (think Zamboni cake with, of course, white icing).

According to Liz Goddard, editor and executive director of www.hockeymoms.com, Palin's sudden rise has generated plenty of discussion on the website. The "pit bull" reference spawned a lot of talk. Among other things, the site is soliciting blog entries on whether it plays into a stereotype of hockey moms as overly aggressive and loud.

"Some women felt closer to Sarah Palin because they had shared the hockey mom experience," says Ms. Goddard. "Others thought it would have no bearing on whether or not Sarah would be fit for the job of vice president."

* * *

"Hockey mom" is the latest pseudo-demographic in political campaigning, following soccer moms and NASCAR dads. Theresa Burgess, who spent one summer as a soccer mom, says the only real difference between that sport and hockey is the small amount of equipment required for soccer. …

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