Annie Strom was 5’4 and full of hell.
On the ice, off the ice, she walked like she was 6’10 and made out of mountains. This was one of the reasons she excelled at hockey and sucked at friends. This didn’t bother her. She didn’t care.
Captain of the Regina Magical Horses hockey team of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League, Strom was a semi-functional menace. Strom’s a-comin’ they’d say as she barreled down the ice. Stromy weather, her teammates would say behind her back at the bar as Annie would pound beers and pick fight fights with whatever male tried to catch her eye. She’d catch them all right, then she’d put her fist in them. This was her modus operandi. Her trademark. Her wake.
She was feared on the ice, respected in the dressing room and mocked in public.
You see, the CWHL was the first semi-professional women’s hockey league that allowed checking and Strom was built for it. Finding success in her abilities was a literal godsend for Strom who was voted most likely to be celebrating her 25th birthday in jail by her high school peers. Her adolescence was volatile but expected.
Her mother disappeared when she was six. Her father, well, he loved his liquid bread. Not a mean drunk, but just not there. She brought herself up while her dad proved to be an emotional lability. A liability in which she tried to distance herself from which created a viscosity in her soul. In the glory of this inner tumult, she looked for a reprieve and this reprieve was mostly taken out on others.
She didn’t take shit from fools and her high school was lousy with them. Here is her rap sheet and her personal expression of defence:
Grade 9 – Ernie Vander, broken nose. Strom says she heard him call Abed Hussein a sand nigger and she, quote-unquote, “punched that silver spooned motherfucker right in the “gug”. The “gug” according to Strom, is the area of the face where the nose and mouth are located. Vander denied it and Hussein’s family had her over for dinner nightly during her two-week suspension.
Grade 10 – Jerrod Spivey, a dislocated finger. Strom said he grabbed her breast during intermission flag football. Spivey said he was going for the flag, Strom countered that the flag was not taped to her boobs and that his erection was all the proof she needed when she twisted his hand making Spivey, from his perspective, apologize under duress. 1-week suspension.
Grade 11 – Sarah Crush, concussion. According to Crush, Strom attacked her in the locker room for “like no reason at all”. Strom says that Crush told her that she doesn’t think she is that tough and she is going to kick her ass in front of everyone to prove it and that she was just a fucked up little shit who has a drunk father and was abandoned by her mo. Mo was meant to be finished as mother, but Strom’s headbutt interrupted the finishing of the word. Seeing as Crush was 5″10 and Strom’s height was noticeably lesser, the viability of the account was lessened. In this case, Strom didn’t help herself any by saying she calmly pulled a chair in front of Crush so as to better “call her bluff”. 1-month suspension and counselling. Crush changed schools several days after the incident.
Grade 12 – assault. She beat up one of her gym teachers, a Mr. Bren. No defence, no reason. She had to repeat grade 12 again as she was suspended for such a time that she couldn’t meet the passing requirements.
The only positive in Strom’s high school years was her penchant for playing a good game of hockey. She actually played on the boy’s teams as she was just too rough. Gordie Howe hat tricks were her forte and sometimes double up on them (2 goals, 2 assists, 2 fights). And so, just as she finished high school, a year late, she was recruited to play in the newly formed CWHL and has been paying her rent by centering one of the top teams in the league. This did little to social life as the fiery redhead had no need for companionship.
It was not a surprise to anyone when she disappeared.