Thursday, 21 February 2019 14:32

Pucks and Ponytails

Photos by Lindsay Wilson. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga Springs' co-ed hockey league, The Saratoga Blue Knights Pee Wee team is a representation of the national growing trajectory of female participation in hockey.
There are three teams in the PeeWee division, A, B and C all divided based strictly on skillset. Of the 12 players on each team, the A team has five girls and the B team has three. Five of these girls participated in the Empire State Winter Games three weeks ago in Lake Placid and won the gold.
According to the National Federation of State High School Association, the participation of girls in ice hockey has increased by 585 players recorded nationally between 2013 and 2016.
“What’s awesome is to see a number of girls that are coming up,” said Pee Wee A assistant coach Molly Morgoslepov. “These kids are 11 and 12 years old and to see what they can do now - stuff I wasn’t doing until I was 25. It’s really fun to watch.”
Last year the USA Women’s Hockey team made headlines when they took home the gold medal against Canada at Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Even with the rise of girls and women being represented in ice hockey, these girls still get mixed responses whenever someone hears that they play the sport.
 
“They are always confused at first but then they’re like - wow, that’s so cool,” said Annie Tolan of the Pee Wee B team.
Rowyn Pemrick of the Pee Wee A team explained, “they’re normally surprised and they always think that boys should just be the ones playing hockey.”
Luckily for the girls of the Pee Wee teams, these assumptions do not cross over into their rink.
“As coaches, it’s great because people don’t care if you’re a boy or girl, they just want you to be an athlete and compete,” said Coach DeAnzeris.
Seeing these girls eager to play hockey shouldn’t come as a surprise, because like many child athletes, they were introduced to the sport from it simply being a family affair.
“I went to one of my older cousin’s college hockey games,” said Lucie Frazier of Pee Wee A. “My brother started playing and I liked watching it so then I wanted to try playing it.”
“I think for each one of them, it’s their favorite sport. I’ve never met a kid who plays hockey, and it’s not their favorite sport,” said Coach Edward.
In unison, the girls all agreed with a passionate “yes!” It is indeed their favorite sport.
The only time the difference of gender takes the forefront of the player’s minds is the absence of a designated locker room. In many non-co-ed team sports, locker rooms are a place to shower and change before and after practices and games. As for the Pee Wee team, the locker room is designed to be a communitive meeting spot before games, as opposed to a place to change. This format is common for USA Hockey leagues nationally.
Both the coaches and the players agree that they all treat each other with respect. They have fun and challenge each other to be their very best.
When on the ice, Coach DeAnzeris tells us, “you won’t be able to tell in a good way (who's a boy or a girl) based on skill; you can tell mainly by the ponytails.”
 
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