Riveters fans have been passionate about their hockey team since the women with Rosie the Riveter on their jersey first stepped onto the ice.
The New York Riveters’ home rink may only hold about 600 fans, but it doesn’t sound like it. If you’ve been to a Riveters’ home game you’ve heard the distinct cowbell, the “Let’s Go Riveters!” chant and felt the rumble of the bleachers from feet stamping in unison.
When the NWHL announced that players would receive 100% of the profits of ticket sales after the first 500 tickets were sold for each game for the remainder of the season, a group of Riveters fans decided to go above and beyond for their team.
From the aforementioned Go Fund Me page:
When we heard NWHL player salaries would be cut by roughly 40%, effective immediately, we were heartbroken. New York is expensive, especially for NWHL players only making an average annual salary of $15,882. Our very own Tatiana Rafter explains the impact of the cuts in her guest blog post .
We aim to buy 20 tickets for every remaining Riveters game (home and away), as well as 10 weekend passes to the NWHL All-Star Game in Pittsburgh.
At the time of the writing of this article the page has raised $765 from nearly 20 different fans. The checkered flag for the fundraising project is $5,000. Fans from as far away as Seattle have donated to the cause.
So, what will this group of hockey fans do once (and if) they have secured the blocks of tickets for all of the Riveters’ remaining games?
They have pledged to put the profits into the pockets of the Riveters and the players on visiting teams. And they will put the tickets purchased for each game into the hands of other fans.
Once we purchase the ticket blocks, we will donate the tickets to fans, youth teams and other women's professional teams (and/or their supporters groups.) We hope to prioritize donating tickets to those who've never seen an NWHL game, or who wouldn't be able to afford tickets otherwise.
All donated funds will be used to purchase tickets at face value. Any additional funds raised will be given directly to the Riveters players, to be used as they see fit.
Jessica Ayala, a member of that dedicated group of Riveters fans, was kind enough to answer a few questions about the undertaking.
“There were lots of ideas that we came up with,” Ayala told Blueshirt Banter. “But this is the one we decided on because of the opportunity to help players and the league, while also involving other NWHL fans.”
Ayala and other diehard fans have become familiar faces in the bleachers at the Barnabas Health Hockey House in Newark. Clearly, being a Riveters fan means a great deal to her.
“It’s changed a bit from last year to this year,” Ayala shared. “Being a fan of any team, you want to support them in any way you can.”
Ayala fell in love with women’s hockey after watching the United States’ Women’s National Team play in Sochi. When the NWHL and the New York Riveters were established, she knew she had to see women’s hockey up close.
“Having a women’s professional team that represents where I’m from, New York, was my first opportunity to see women’s hockey in-person,” Ayala continued. “Which is why it was hard to see players leave due to the financial struggles of the league. Being a Riveters fan this season is more about being a community of unified support.”
Raising $5,000 for 220 tickets and 10 All-Star Game passes is a tall order. Especially for a team that moved about a 40 minute drive away from its larger home rink in Brooklyn from last season. But, like any loyal hockey fan, Ayala is optimistic.
“I’m hopeful we will reach our goal,” Ayala shared with Blueshirt Banter. “I was shocked that in the first three hours of launching the campaign publicly that we reached ten percent of our goal. I definitely would love it if we hit our goal, because in doing so, more people can be exposed to the league and see a game live.”
Ayala and her fellow fans aim to help the players that they meet with after each game. It is not uncommon to see gifts and hugs exchanged. The fans and players share a palpable affection and appreciation for one another.
As noteworthy as the efforts of Ayala and her collaborators is, it was also in some ways inevitable. These fans love their hockey team and they are going to do whatever they can to keep them on the ice.
“It’s not only Riveters fans that want this league to succeed,” Ayala explained. “I just hope that it’s a way that we can come together as fans and feel like we can do something, instead of feeling kind of powerless. By powerless I mean, no, it’s not our job to know [what’s in] the books or PR of the league. As fans who want to see the league grow, reading the press release about ticket sale bonuses going directly to players on both teams was encouraging.
“We can help out our team and the league by doing what we are already do,” Ayala continued. “Showing up, cheering on our team, and sticking around after the game to say hello. To say ‘thank you’. Basically, by being fans!”