By: J.L. Shively
“Ice hockey is still a young sport for girls,” states Randolph athletic director, Jeffrey DiLollo, but that did not dim the interest of 21 girls from the high school this year.
This season Randolph took a step into making history for their school by starting their own girls’ ice hockey league.
The genesis of this league was centered on the interest of two sophomore students who had experience playing with travel ice hockey leagues.
“They came to me and spoke about their interest” early in the year states DiLollo.
To start, only four girls expressed a desire to play but soon the girls had put together a list of interested girls which they would be able to take to the board to qualify for a team.
The team started with only 11 players but soon grew to have 21, including the first two sophomores which pioneered their way to this success.
The road to having a new team approved is not always an easy one but Randolph’s BOE was particularly responsive.
“I have not been in a community that is as fast responding as Randolph,” states DiLollo. “The support and activism is tremendous and really heartwarming.”
To begin the quest for creating a girls ice hockey team a proposition had to be made to the board. An adjustment to the budget would have to be made for the coaching staff as well as how the cost of travel for games would be covered.
The athletic budget was able to absorb the cost for travel and officiating and although DiLollo approached the board outside the budget season for the coach, the board was able to approve the costs.
“It is really what you’d hope to see out of a district where students have something they are interested in and the community and administration gets behind them,” states DiLollo.
The budget was approved by the BOE in Nov. and the girls’ ice hockey league was able to start their season in mid. Dec.
A physical education gym teacher at Randolph, Gina Annunziata, stepped forward to act as the girls coach. Annunziata is also the head field hockey coach and brings her years of experience in coaching to the plate by leading the team.
Three fathers of the ice hockey players also stepped forward to assist in coaching the team. These coaches have extensive backgrounds in ice hockey and have been involved in coaching some of the girls travel teams.
A parent group also formed as part of RAM RAC, which is the Randolph Athletic Community, for the ice hockey team. It was this parent group which helped the girls get their equipment and used the team’s dues as well as a fundraiser to get the jerseys for the girls to wear.
The team consists now of a mix of grades, all girls from the RHS and they will play teams such as Summit, Westfield and Chatham for their season. Tentatively they will play a total of eight games this season.
Practices and home games have been arranged to take place at Aspen Ice in Randolph.
“They have been very good to use there,” states DiLollo explaining that Aspen has given them a reduced rate for ice time.
The girls exemplify their commitment to the sport by attending practices before school which begin at 5:45 a.m., and although most did not have prior experience with ice hockey they continue to express their determination to learn.
So far the girls have played two games, their first taking place just before the winter break. DiLollo states that the team has a very clear drive for success as “a developing team.”
“Although we don’t have a ‘W,’” says DiLollo, “there is a real group of talent on the team.”
It is true that as the team sharpens their skills they have yet to win on the ice, but their perseverance in making this dream team a reality is a true score for them in the long run.