Female students start their own ice hockey club

ENGLEWOOD, N.J. —— The word “hockey” usually conjures up images of macho male athletes fiercely battling it out on the ice. But at the Mackay Ice Rink in Englewood, a group of teenage girls is getting in on the rink action.

The newly formed Dwight Morrow High School girls hockey club is comprised of nine teenage girls that attend Dwight Morrow and Academies@Englewood: Sarah Yang, Emily Chung, Angelina Han, Sarah Kang, Klaudia Spahiu, Angie Cyril, Godsy Philip, Seleena Jacob, and Lauren Choi. That number may increase, as any student reenrolled in Dwight Morrow High School is eligible to join the club.
Pictured, first row from left: Emily Chung, Sarah Yang, Godsy Philip and Lauren Choi. Pictured, back row from left: Lorenzo Allotta, Sarah Kang, Klaudia Spahiu, Angelina Han, Angie Cyril and Summer Helm. (Photo by Hillary Viders)

Sarah Yang, a 16-year-old sophomore at the Academies@ Englewood, was the stimulus for starting the club. Sarah, who had been figure skating for many years, wanted to play hockey and she had no trouble recruiting eight of her classmates. Sarah’s father, John Yang, said he is impressed by the girls’ hard work, spunk and determination.

“I originally liked Sarah’s idea for a hockey club because I thought that it would be good for the girls to be exposed to a traditionally male sport, and also because it would be good to list it on their college applications. In the few months since the club began, the girls have really embraced ice hockey,” he said.

Every Tuesday afternoon, a bus funded by Dwight Morrow High School shuttles the girls from school to the Mackay Ice Rink for a two-hour session.

The girls are coached by Lorenzo Allotta and Summer Helm, both Englewood residents and highly skilled competitive skaters. Both have been skating their entire lives, and when they play hockey against male teams, they give them a run for their money.

“One guy said that he wanted to be on my team so I wouldn’t hit him!” Helm said.

Although some of the club members are fairly new to ice skating, they are all athletic and most of them engage in other sports as well, such as basketball, soccer and baseball.

Ken Katz, here with Angelina Han, presents all the girls in the club with hockey gloves.

The girls hockey club is funded by the Friends of the John T. Wright Arena and the Englewood Parks and Recreation Department. The Friends of the John T. Wright Arena pays for the coaching and some ice-skating equipment, while the recreation department provides the ice time and rental equipment free of charge.

Lisa Wisotsky, president of the Friends of the John T. Wright Arena, said, “We are proud to sponsor the Dwight Morrow High School girls ice hockey club. Studies have shown that youth recreation, and specifically in this case, organized ice hockey, helps to improve skills, confidence and even learning abilities through healthy team work and competition. Benefits such as these are why so many Englewood residents support the John T. Wright Arena and the ice rink in Englewood.  The Friends’ nonprofit is proud to supplement these programs through hard work and fund raising year round.” 

On Tuesday, Dec. 19, Mackay ice arena manager Ken Katz presented all of the girls with new hockey gloves. Afterward, the girls grabbed their hockey sticks and headed to the ice for a rigorous practice session.

The staff at the John T. Wright Arena is enthused about having the girls ice hockey club. Phil Vogel, the rink’s systems management expert, said that the arena tried years ago to put together a club, and he is delighted that it is now up and running. He said they’re even hoping to increase practice time to two sessions a week.

Helm said she feels that the girls have great potential. “Some have been skating for a few years, and some are novices, but they are all upbeat and excited to learn new things every week. We are now working on crossovers, skating backwards and using the hockey sticks. What’s really nice is that there is a lot of teamwork and support of one another.”

Allotta is also a fan of the new club. “I live in Englewood and went to the Academies@ Englewood, and I didn’t have the opportunity to play hockey there. So, I think it’s great that these girls are able to play and that the high school finally has a hockey program.”

All the club members are eager to display their acquired new skills and they hope to eventually form a league in which they can play other high school girls ice hockey teams.

Club member Emily Chung said, “Having a Dwight Morrow High School ice hockey team also lifts our spirits and the school’s pride.”
Photos by Hillary Viders