If there’s a time to try anything new in life, many would say it’s in college, and the women’s club hockey team here at Keene State College has embraced that.
“There’s a lot of girls with different skill levels,” hockey player and co-founder of the club, Sabrina Lapointe, said.
“We have some players that haven’t been playing hockey a long time, others who are excited to continue their career and others are excited to learn and start playing games,” co-founder Ashley Waterman said.
The team was founded in November of last year by Waterman, Lapointe and Kathryn Sleeman, who littered the campus with fliers and posted on the campus cruiser account to get the word out that they were starting the club.
“Our Facebook page has been a really good thing, a lot of people started liking that and [men’s hockey coach] Bobby Rodrigue and [men’s hockey assistant coach] Bert Poirier have been really helpful of spreading the news,” Sleeman said.
“We have had a lot of support from campus and staff, things worked out well for us,” Waterman said.
“It’s good now that the college offers it, we can inspire and change people’s college decisions.”
The club was going to join the same league the men’s club team is a part of, the American Collegiate Hockey Association, but since they are just starting off, they didn’t want to be overwhelmed.
“With the budget and everything happening we didn’t want to bite off more than we could chew,” Waterman said.
“We just got invited back, we wanted to see how we were the first year, we want to increase in numbers.”
As the team was getting started last year, the women mostly practiced, scrimmaged and played about four games against women’s league teams in the area and retired Division I schools. They also participated in a tournament in Revere, Mass.
This year they will play more teams from familiar schools in New England, such as University of Vermont, University of New Hampshire and Northeastern University.
“We’ll play other schools in the area with school club teams like Smith and Colby,” Waterman said.
The women’s club team currently skates ten players and one goalie and still has people deciding if they want to commit.
With these D-I schools having a larger student enrollment rate than KSC, they will have the advantage come game time, which forces the team to go back to fundamentals. “Practices are currently working on skating and playing against each other, basic skating drills,” Sleeman said. “I’m excited to watch the team develop, we have all the girls back from last year and we already look better.”
“Everyone needs to practice the fundamental part of hockey,” Lapointe said.
Only in their second week of playing, practices take place usually from 11 p.m. to midnight twice a week at the chilly Cheshire Fairground Ice Rink.
“As long as we’re on the ice a couple times a week, we’re happy to be out there,” Sleeman said.
The founders of the club vow that anyone can join, skill level aside, and just want to show people how much fun hockey can be and hope one day they can be where the men’s team is now.
“A lot of people have [signed] up and said they haven’t played before,” Waterman said. “We’re doing [the club] to have fun, but not to push anyone. Anyone can play. If you want to participate, who are we to stop you?”
In their brief start to the season, the women’s club team has already built a bond between the players and said they are very close— it also made things easier that everyone made the team after the first night of practice.
“Our group of people are amazing,” Lapointe said. “No drama.”
“In the locker room the first night, we instantly had this bond and we can bicker back and forth,” Sleeman said. “It made things a lot easier.”
Hockey is a very tough sport to pick up at the college age, as it sometimes takes years to develop necessary skating skills, puck control and an overall vision of the game, but it hasn’t stopped these women from encouraging others to try something new.
“It’s a great experience, everyone should try it,” Waterman said. “It’s a great way to make new friends. Plus, hockey makes you look like a bad-ass.”
An Equinox staff member, Sabrina Lapointe, was a source interviewed in this story.
Stephen Aruilio can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org