NKHS all-girl hockey team begins season
Up to now, girls who wanted to play hockey at North Kingstown High had one option – try out for the coed team and play with the boys. Now, NKHS girls can play in a hockey league without boys.
The Storm, a new all-girls’ coop hockey team, has melded students from Narragansett High, North Kingstown High and South Kingstown High into a new squad. The girls skated to a 3-3 tie in their first outing, the injury fund game the Sunday after Thanksgiving.
The team lost the rematch 8-0 against Burrillville last week, but according to Jamestown’s Amina Brown, who plays for The Storm, the lopsided score reflected a different level of competition. Both novice and veteran players competed in the first match, but in the second meeting, Burrillville/Ponaganset co-op sent its senior varsity onto the ice, and their experience proved too much for The Storm to overcome.
The second time, The Storm didn’t play its best hockey, either, Amina said.
“Everyone was very nervous,” she said, but they’re not discouraged about the loss.
Coach Ed Curran agreed with her assessment of the game.
“It was a combination of things,” he said. “The kids were definitely nervous. But Burrillville is a good team with a bunch of girls back from last year.” In the first game, their coach played everyone, he said, “all 25 kids on the roster.” But for the league game, Burrillville used its top players.
“The girls went up against a better, more experience team,” Curran said. “It’s going to happen to us.” But he’s confident The Storm will become a contender eventually.
“We’ve got girls who are making some really good progress,” he said, and he’d like to see more people come out and support the team.
This weekend, The Storm will play two games: the Saturday match against Barrington and on Sunday, the team takes on defending state champions, Mount St. Charles.
The games start at 7 p.m. at the Boss Arena at the University of Rhode Island.
Mount, La Salle and Burrillville are the league powerhouses, he said, but he’s not taking anyone lightly.
The Storm has a couple of stars. “It’s a pretty good team,” Curran said, considering they’re brand new.
“Eight girls have experience skating and playing hockey,” and the team will give them the opportunity to test themselves against the best players in the state. The novices are gaining a chance to play a high school sport, he said.
“It’s a nice mix,” he said. Seven players come from North Kingstown High, with six from South Kingstown and five from Narragansett.
“It’s a lot of fun,” Amina said. “Everyone’s very supportive and really nice.”
Amina, who led the Skippers’ junior varsity tennis team to the state championship this fall, is among the novice players who have never played hockey before, according to Sharon McGreen, one of the parent organizers.
“She signed up in the fall, and she’s giving it her all,” McGreen said.
Amina, who plays forward wing, said she saw a lot more playing time in the injury fund game than she expected. The coach has been using players with athletic abilities, which she has honed from tennis, and she also has a winning attitude. She doesn’t remember ever not knowing how to skate, she said, because skating was a family pastime.
“I’m one of the ones who aren’t afraid of getting hit or being aggressive,” she said.
Amina said the players wear so much padding, the hits don’t hurt.
The Narragansett/North Kingstown/ South Kingstown girls’ ice hockey co-op was approved to compete in the Rhode Island Interscholastic League, McGreen said, and also won the nod from all three school committees. The schools do not have to fund the new league because corporate sponsors and fundraisers have come up with the money.
Everyone who came to the tryouts made the team, she said, and estimated about half the 16 players never played hockey before.
“Some have done recreational skating and rollerblading,” she said. “Two maybe did not have skating,” and they’re learning how to navigate the ice.
McGreen said the roster of players is sufficient, and the coach can manage by switching three lines of five players (three forwards and two defenders) in and out of the game.
“It’s highly intensive,” she said, and the idea is to make sure the kids on the ice have enough “gas” to keep skating by giving them breaks.
McGreen sees a future for girls’ ice hockey but hopes the corporate sponsorships will not dry up.
“There are 11 interscholastic high school teams this year,” she said, compared to nine a year ago.
“It’s very exciting,” McGreen said. “It’s growing and expanding.” But hockey remains an expensive proposition, and many parents cannot afford the costs.
For one example, the team’s ice rink time will run between $7,000 and $9,000, she estimated. Without the fundraising efforts, many youngsters might have stayed home and not come out for the team.