This winter 23 local families made a commitment to love and honor their daughters’ passion. They spend countless hours bundled and shivering, waking at the crack of dawn, traveling many miles, watching their precious daughters play what has traditionally been a sport reserved for boys: ice hockey.
They play for the love of the sport and this year, for the love of winning. The Blades are 11-2-1 so far. The 23 girls are from Bethany, Orange, Woodbridge, Cheshire and North Haven, towns that often are the strongest of rivals.
Orange parent, Lisa MacNamara, says the girls put their rivalries aside for hockey season, work together and enjoy playing the game. “There is the coming together at the beginning of the season and getting the introductions out of the way. Then everyone gets to know one another while practicing. Amity and Cheshire are rivals but the girls have always worked great together. Of course when the girls meet during other sports such as lacrosse; the rivalry is back on!” she jokes.
“Girls hockey is growing,” says Kara DelVecchio, of Orange, whose daughter Andrea plays for the Blades. “Most high school hockey teams are co-ops as there are not always enough girls to have a full team,” she explains. The team is growing in numbers every year. “The girls all enjoy spending time on and off the ice,” DelVecchio says. Her daughter started playing at age five.
“She loved watching hockey games. I never thought this would be my daughter. I envisioned her doing gymnastics. When I saw the joy in her eyes when she skated with her stick and puck I knew it would continue. She went from learn to skate to travel hockey for years with all boys,” she says. At 12 her daughter went to play with the CT Polar Bears all-girls private team where she continues to play as well as for the Blades.
DelVecchio says hockey is more than a sport to her daughter, “I love to watch her play. She is so happy on the ice. It makes her become a person who can work well with others, it teaches her to become a good team-mate and respect authority such as her 4 coaches. These are qualities she can use her whole life. It is very time consuming and forces hard work and determination for success.”
For the Kosh family of Bethany, it all started quite innocently. “I just wanted my girls to learn to ice skate as it was a favorite pastime of mine when I was a child. Grace would be getting off the ice after figure skating and see the boys coming on with sticks and pucks and wanted to know what they were doing? She said that looked like more fun—and our ‘monster’ was created!” Tricia Kosh says, adding, “I love the talent it takes, you have all the talent of most all other sports (speed, eye hand coordination, agility, passing, receiving etc.), but you are doing it all while skating!”
Kosh confers that the girls from three schools get along great and are quite used to playing with girls from across the state. “The girls can be playing one day for Blades and then be playing against each other on their league team. They always play hard against or with each – but then come off the ice and take pics!”
Few sports are as fierce, yet sentimental as girls’ hockey. The families, based on their daughters’ love of the sport, make great sacrifices of time and money, but the payoff is well worth the investment. “We spend the money and travel crazy because our girls love it and the friendships they make are the best of any kind!” Kosh says. “Grace considers all these girls her best friends. She has learned respect, teamwork, discipline, perseverance, and the grace of winning and losing through this sport.”
Her daughter Grace has been skating since she was 5 and she has played for many teams of both boys and girls. “You almost can’t go to any rink in the state and not run into someone you don’t know—even out of state for that point. All these hockey people have a certain “bondˮ and get you and your “crazyˮ hockey family. It is definitely a club like no other!” Kosh says.
By Melissa Nicefaro – Orange Town News Correspondent