Story by Kirsten Fedorowicz, The Saint Reporter
Photo Courtesy of Adam Bird
The athletes practice at the Southside Arena in Byron Center. They have been provided their own locker room, personalized for Aquinas and the team’s specific needs. First-year defenseman Maria Maguire explained the experience of being a brand new sports team and watching the AQ logo go up and the locker room slowly become theirs.
“There was always something new, it was really exciting,” said Maguire. “It’s nice to get back from games as far away as Chicago and be able to see that we’re home.”
The team is small this year because of its newness, but the ten skaters and their goalie work hard to make this inaugural year a great one.
“From the first practice, we committed to the opportunity that Aquinas College provided us with. We work hard and take nothing for granted,” said Head Coach Katie O’Brien.
The team is playing against teams that are twice their size and twenty years more established, and they’re holding their own with flair. Their biggest accomplishment so far has been their victory against the Michigan State Women’s Team at 5-2, a team that is ranked three spots ahead of them. Overall, they have lost four and won three of their games. Within the D2 Conference, they have won three out of their four games. According to the recently released November first ranking, the team has been ranked seventh in the ACHA Division 2 rankings. This honor is received by the votes from coaches around the Western area. Women’s Hockey has lofty goals, and the determination to reach them.
“We want to be ranked among the top four in our conference and receive a bid to the Women’s Division 2 National Championship Tournament,” said O’Brien. “In the future, we want to move our program up to Division 1 and compete against the best teams in the country.”
The Women’s Hockey team has received some pretty amazing support from the community so far, but could always use more attendance to their important games, and as Coach O’Brien said;
“Every game is important to reach our ultimate goal.”
The team plays through February, with the month of December off from games. The athletes will be traveling to Marquette on November 21t and 22 to play against a team who is ranked first in the conference. To catch a game at home, you can watch them either at their November 13 or November 14 games, at 8:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. respectively playing against Lake Superior State.
With eleven athletes, the Women’s Hockey team is a close knit group. They have a strong appreciation for each other and each other’s abilities. When asked to highlight a few player’s performances, Coach O’Brien gave the name of every player on the team. They’re all off to do great things on the ice and off.