By Angelina Jasinski, Entertainment Editor
This year, Carolyn Malz’s son started as a freshman at Hersey High School, so she signed him up to play for the high school hockey team. Seeing the enjoyment he had while playing with his high school, Malz wanted the same for her daughter who has been playing hockey as well and who will be starting at Hersey next year.
However, Malz realized that there was no girls hockey team that represented the high schools throughout the area. She decided to mention this to other hockey players and parents, and they agreed that the creation of a team for local high school girls would benefit both the district and female players. The decision was therefore made to create this team.
Many other girls are eager to join the new team as soon as it starts. Prospect sophomore Ella Knee has been playing hockey for five years and is currently playing for the Glenview Stars, and she is also going to play for the new team; she is excited about this and knows other people that are going to participate. Knee also thinks this team will be a good opportunity that will allow girls to meet new people outside of their schools. She mentions that a girls’ hockey organization will be a good chance for girls to play a sport in high school that isn’t commonly offered.
Prospect Junior Henry Griffin has been playing hockey for 12 years and currently plays for the high school boys PREP team. He agrees that it gives girls interested in the sport an opportunity to play. Griffin finds that overall, the creation of a new team is a plus as it will bring awareness and popularity to the sport.
While the creation of this new hockey league for girls has been in the making for many years, Malz finally decided to take the initiative and get a team together to ensure that they would be prepared for the next season.
Gina Kubacik, a parent from Palatine High School, began the work with Malz on the creation of the team a few months ago. Thanks to these efforts, it appears they are going to be successful with starting the team according to Malz.
Malz and Kubacik had to take many steps to get where they are now, especially with finding students that wanted to participate.
They began by talking to students from schools district-wide to see who would be eligible to play. They have also created a flyer to get the message on community boards and ice arenas, and they have been sending some to those that they know are currently playing at a house, travel, or elite level of hockey. They will be working with area high schools’ athletic directors and administrators to spread the message. This recruitment process has been ongoing, and they are still trying to get the word out for players who have not yet been on a competitive team.
“Overall it takes obviously a lot of players to fill the team… girls’ hockey hasn’t been as prevalent and there haven’t been as many skaters that there are in boys hockey,” Malz said.
Although girls’ hockey is not as popular, its popularity is steadily increasing. According to the Daily Herald, 75,832 girls and women were registered with USA hockey in the nation from the 2016-17 season. This is nearly a 32% increase from the 2006-07 season. As for Illinois, it was a much higher increase; 3,097 girls and women registered with USA Hockey last season. This was a 58% increase from 2006-07.
Malz also expressed that there is a group of girls interested in skating for spring. Because of these ongoing efforts to start a new team, they were quickly able to put together a spring team and they are now playing in the new 3 on 3, Girls high school 2018 Spring Tournament. This tournament had shown that there’s quite a bit of interest for the fall team. They also have quite a few girls that are skating in junior high and are interested in joining the team within the next few years.
While the fall team is still under development, Malz also mentions that this year, they are quickly nearing the completion of a team and are getting very close to final approval to play. Nonetheless, there have been many challenges along the way; the approval process is just another goal to make before this team is finalized.
In order to get approval, the team must have a roster, or a list of all the girls who attend the area high schools and want to join the team. This roster must then be approved by the Amatuer Hockey Association of Illinois (AHAI) and authorized by USA Hockey.
As for challenges, Malz mentions that there were many leading up to starting the team. This was especially the case given that they are trying to work as quickly as possible in order to be ready for the fall. Making sure that there are enough skaters, determining which schools will be a part of this team, raising funds, working to secure coaching, finding a practice ice arena, and finalizing the name of the team have been a few of these challenges.
Of all of these obstacles, finding coaches has been especially difficult. Malz mentioned that they are working to find coaches with a broad range of talents who can also help with skill development while simultaneously being competitive. They should also focus on team-bonding and developing valuable relationships on and off the ice.
Hockey is a very expensive sport and renting practice ice can run up to $500 an hour. The costs vary though depending on the roster, equipment, and coaches.
In order to compensate for these costs Malz mentions that they are doing many fundraising events such as bakes sales, raffles, silent auctions, and car washes. They will also be giving back to their community with clothing and food drives, assisting in elderly homes, meals on wheels, Feed My Starving Children, and other organizations in the area.
At the moment, the team will most likely consist players from Prospect, Hersey, and Palatine. However, there are a few schools that are under consideration, like Fremd, Wheeling, St. Viator, to name a few. Since the team may include these high schools, it will not exclusively have an association with District 214.
Despite the challenges, Malz finds this will be a good opportunity for many girls and is excited that they will finally have a chance to represent their high schools on the ice. Girls who have never played will also have an opportunity through this team to play, which will allow them to develop new skills, and experienced players to improve even more.
“It’s exciting that we will be able to put together a program that will be able to last for many years to come,” Malz said. “It is also an opportunity to introduce the sport of hockey to girls who aren’t currently playing, but might have an interest and can develop their skills into becoming a good player.”