, Newburyport, MA


January 28, 2008

Ladies on ice: Will River Rival schools add girls hockey?

The River Rival Region may soon see a new sport that involves ice, skates, a puck and plenty of padding grace the region.

There is however one requisite: NO BOYS ALLOWED.

Hoping to follow in the footsteps of the neighboring Northeastern Conference as well as the Cape Ann League, residents and family members alike have been pushing to create a girls cooperative hockey team for the Newburyport, Pentucket, Amesbury and Triton high schools.

Rob Ouellette and Tom Coffey are steadying the mast and hope that with a successful free skate on Feb. 10 (6 to 8:30 p.m.) at the Governor's Academy rink, a team will be forged.

"Parents and I have been talking collectively for a while about forming a co-op girl's hockey team," states Ouellete. "The idea of starting one has always been in the air, there just weren't enough able bodies to form a team.

"We all have daughters who love hockey, and once the pee wee league ends, our girls are thrust into a league that may not be prepared for them," explains Ouellette. "Some of our girls can certainly handle boys, and it is allowed for girls to play on a boys team if they wish, but the reality is that it's better for girls to compete against girls."

The number of girls wanting to play hockey has increased steadily over the years. The Newburyport JV hockey team has five girls on the roster, including two goalies. Amesbury has sophomore Janelle Sidilou playing on its varsity squad.

Despite being the lone girl on her team, Sidilou, who also plays on an all-girls team in Exeter, NH, - The Lady Freeze - has no qualms.

"I love playing with the boys," Sidilou said. "We're not having a great year, but it's still fun to play with them. If a team was put together, I'm sure I'd think about it."

The task at hand for Ouellette and others remains a definite work in progress. Compiling the facts, setting dates, and reaching out to any willful female hockey players is a start.

Danvers Athletic Director John Sullivan knows what it takes to get a co-op team off the ground.

"Initially there was an experimental year with Masconomet, where we would travel and play with their team. Unfortunately, it became too expensive," said Sullivan.

Athletic directors from the Northeastern conference met with Sullivan to reach an agreement. They conferred on matters such as eighth-grade waivers for possible extra roster spots and accepting a cooperative pact designated by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association. By doing so, a treaty was reached and Beverly would host a cooperative team that would include players from Danvers, Saugus and Salem.

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