KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - When you think of hockey and its fans you don't often get the image of women. But the Knoxville Ice Bears are trying to change that.
Ice Bears President/GM Mike Murray says getting women to think of the Ice Bears is key to growing their fan base, "We understand that women make 90% , or sometimes more, of the decisions in the household for entertainment and we want the Ice Bears to be a viable part of that entertainment option." Head Coach Mike Craigen agrees, "If the wife wants to go to a hockey game, chances are the husband will go with her so we are trying to cater to that a little bit."
To raise the interest among women the Ice Bears began the program "Skates and Skirts" 3 years ago. It's an event that educates women about the sport and, more importantly, gives them the chance to put a face to the players on the ice.
Event attendee Jessica Finchum says, "It's good to meet all the guys personally so I know who I'm actually watching when I'm in the stands watching them on the ice." Event sponsor Deane Conley says Skates and Skirts made a fan out of her, "I know nothing about Ice hockey and thought this was a chance to find something out and meet the guys."
But it's not just the women who enjoy the meet and greet. Ice Bears defenseman Jason Ford loves meeting the fans, "I consider myself a social guy. I like walking around, mingling, meeting new people. There's lots of good looking upstanding citizens here, so I enjoy that aspect of it as well."
It's a great way to get people involved and increase their fan base. 53 women attended the most recent event. The next Skates and Skirts mixer will be held on January 17th.