December 16, 2013WOLFEBORO — Last year, Maria Hendrickson and Shannon Riley suited up for the Kingswood hockey team. They aren't on the roster this year, but next year, they will once again be sporting the green and white.
But it will be a little different.
At the Dec. 2 Governor Wentworth Regional School District board meeting, parents Dave Richard and Tom Cayon, with support from Kingswood Athletic Director Andrea Ogden, presented a plan to add girls' hockey to the list of varsity sports Kingswood offers.
The board approved, with enthusiasm and the team will kick off its first season next winter.
Cayon and Richard, however, credited Hendrickson for really getting the seed of girls' hockey growing.
"Last year, Maria kept telling me she wanted a girls' team," said Cayon, who also serves as an assistant coach on the current Kingswood team. He noted he wasn't 100 percent positive it would be possible, but then after looking at the numbers coming through the Back Bay Youth Hockey program, he realized it might be possible.
Hendrickson actually put a survey out at the school and got 25 to 30 girls who said they would be willing to give the team a chance.
While Cayon and Richard both know they likely won't see all those kids, they are expecting some big numbers coming through, which could be a boon to the program.
"Next year's a big number and the year after that's another big number," Cayon said. "And we hope they're young enough to keep it going."
Richard noted that a U14 girls' team has been formed that is serving as a feeder team and he is excited about the opportunities it could provide.
"Now we've got a high school team, girls will see there's a place to continue playing if they want to," Richard said. "In the past, they've left to go to a different school or sadly, when it got too physical, they just stopped playing."
"There's more and more girls playing," Cayon said.
He pointed out that the majority of the numbers right now are at the middle school level, with a number ready to step up to the plate in high school next year and more the year after that.
"And there's a handful of girls in fourth grade, so we're hoping," Richard said. "We're hoping we can keep girls in the school."
Cayon and Richard were quick to praise Ogden for her support of the program, guiding them through the process that they needed to follow in order to get a team started. And they were impressed with how enthusiastic the school board was.
"Andrea was awesome," Cayon said. "And the school board thanked us for doing it.
"We sat down and she couldn't have been more receptive," Cayon continued, speaking of Ogden.
"It all kind of came together, it worked out great," Richard added.
While Cayon and Richard note that they are more than willing to step up and help coach the team as it gets off the ground, they are also interested in finding women in the community who might be interested in helping them coach. They believe that having a female coach would give the kids someone to look up to. Additionally, since both Cayon and Richard have daughters who will be on the team next year, and they believe that it's good to have coaches who might not be parents.
"We're volunteering at the start, but it's going to be a work in progress," Richard said of the coaching situation.
"We're looking immediately to find some female coaches with experience who might want to do it," Cayon added. "No matter how hard we try, we've never been a woman."
Much like the ice hockey and lacrosse teams at the high school, the girls will have to raise funds to support the team. Cayon and Richard are guessing the cost to be between $400 and $500 per player, with fees for ice time and referees, plus possible uniforms and equipment. They are hoping to fundraise to lower the cost for every player.
"I don't want money to be a limiting factor," Cayon said.
The school board agreed to support transportation to away games, but all other fees will be paid by the team. The trial process runs for two years and Cayon and Richard are hopeful that they can go back to the school board in two years, showing that the team has good support and is funded well.
"It's great for the school to get more girls involved," Richard said. "And we're finding girls who stopped playing a few years ago that miss it and want to come back."
With the team starting next year, Hendrickson will be the team's senior, while Riley will be a junior. The rest of the team will likely be younger kids coming up to high school.
Cayon and Richard expect that in a couple of years, the program will be strong numberswise with the girls coming through the Back Bay program.
Currently, the NHIAA has 11 girls' hockey teams. It is one of the newer sports introduced at the high school level. Hanover has won every NHIAA championship in girls' hockey so far. Other teams Berlin-Gorham, Bishop Brady-Trinity, Bishop Guertin, Concord, Con-Val, Exeter, Lebanon, Oyster River, Souhegan and St. Thomas-Dover.
Joshua Spaulding can be reached at 569-3126 or firstname.lastname@example.org.