PHOTOS: Try It, You’ll Like It! Girls Sample Ice Hockey at Greenwich Skating Club

John Unger, Elizabeth Anderson, 13, from Sacred Heart, and Shannon Doyle at Greenwich Skating Club. Feb 24, 2018 Photo Avery Barakett

At the Greenwich Skating Club: John Unger; Elizabeth Anderson, 13, from Sacred Heart; and coach Shannon Doyle, who is also a professional hockey player with the Hartford Whale and a teacher at GCDS. Feb 24, 2018 Photo Leslie Yager

The Greenwich Skating Club held its second annual “Girls Try Hockey” event on Saturday.

Though the forecast was for rain, the skies were bright and the temps were mild – a perfect day for 3rd, 4th and 5th grade girls to sample a new sport.

With the help of Shannon Doyle, a player for the Connecticut Whale, who is also a coach at the Greenwich Skating Club, the girls did drills and games including Red Light / Green Light and Simon Says.

Girls were encouraged to bring their own gear, but whatever they didn’t own or couldn’t find as a hand-me-down was loaned to them by other players.

Volunteers and parents stood by to help the girls put on their equipment and tie their skates. In addition to giving new players a chance to experience hockey, the event allowed girls who might be interested in playing next season the opportunity to meet with current players.

“It’s not about a path to stardom,” said GSC co-head of hockey Jason Price. “It’s about having a great experience, and when you get older you’ll want to recreate it for your kids. The girls are having fun and building both relationships and skills.”

The event, organized by club president GSC president Don Raftery, John Unger, Matt Arpano, Jason Price and club general manager Brent Brower, was an opportunity for girls with limited exposure to the sport to give it a try, including several figure skaters.

According to Mr. Raftery, figure skaters often become excellent hockey players.

“We have lots of figure skaters come out who want to try ice hockey,” he said. “They’re often some of the greatest players because they already know how to skate and how to use their edges. All they need to learn is how to use their stick and how to put on the equipment.” 

John Unger said the event goes a long way to filling the ranks of female hockey players.

“Girls hockey has been on thin ice,” Unger said. “You always need to be recruiting to keep the program going. But once the girls try it, they’re hooked.”

Richard Fulton, whose children play hockey at GSC and GHS said because of all the required gear, players are in locker room together 45 minutes before and after the game, and that all that extra time together fosters friendships. “You make lifetime friends playing hockey,” he said.

Fulton described hockey as an all-inclusive community sport. He said that by running events like Saturday’s, the Greenwich Skating Club is able to showcase girls hockey.

Raftery predicted that many girls would come back and try out for teams next season.

“Being a part of the program here makes you a hockey player for life,” Raftery said. “All it takes is a little push. And it’s a great time to capitalize on girls hockey given the win in the Olympics this past week.”

Indeed, girls hockey is on the rise, and coaches like Shannon Doyle and facilities like the Greenwich Skating Club are helping to make girls hockey a more popular sport.

Girls sampling the sport of hockey at the Greenwich Skating Club enjoyed drills and games under the supervision of Shannon Doyle. Photo: Leslie Yager

Shannon Doyle, a coach at the Greenwich Skating Club, lead the girls in some drills with the help of her U14 team.

While Doyle organized the drills, the U14 players helped distribute gear and lead smaller breakout groups.

“Shannon is terrific,” Raftery said. “With her success in college as well as her playing with the NWHL for the Connecticut Whale, she is one of our marquee coaches.”

Raftery said Doyle has done such a terrific job with the program from the U12s and now with the U14s.

“She’s not just a coach, she’s also a role model,” he said. “The girls truly love her and she’s got a good mix of tough love and a sweetness. She knows when to put her arm around the girls, but also when to give them a kick in the backside.”

Jason Price, who along with Jack Duffy is co-head of hockey at the club, daughter Elle “Jelly” and dog Brooks at Greenwich Skating Club. Jason is a lifelong hockey enthusiast moving from California to Minnesota to play hockey. Now, in Greenwich, he is able to share his love of hockey with his four children at the Greenwich Skating Club. Feb 24, 2018 Photo Leslie Yager

Shannon Doyle is a professional women’s hockey player for the CT Whale, which plays out of Terry Conners in Stamford. She is also the Greenwich Skating Club U14 head coach. Photo Avery Barakett

Shannon Doyle ushered about 20 girls off the ice at the Greenwich Skating Club on Saturday, Feb 24, 2018 Photo Avery Barakett

Shannon Doyle ushered about 20 girls off the ice at the Greenwich Skating Club on Saturday, Feb 24, 2018 Photo Avery Barakett

Teen players helped Shannon Doyle expose younger girls to the game of hockey on Saturday, Feb 24, 2018 Photo: Leslie Yager

Teen players helped Shannon Doyle expose younger girls to the game of hockey on Saturday, Feb 24, 2018 Photo: Leslie Yager

Parents greeted their daughters as they left the ice after trying out skating under the direction of Shannon Doyle. Photo Avery Barakett

Parents greeted their daughters as they left the ice after trying out skating under the direction of Shannon Doyle. Photo Avery Barakett

Girls participated in drills and games on Saturday at Greenwich Skating Club. Feb 24, 2018 Photo Avery Barakett

Girls participated in drills and games on Saturday at Greenwich Skating Club. Feb 24, 2018 Photo Avery Barakett

Shannon Doyle explained a drill to a group of girls trying out hockey for the first time. Saturday, Feb 24, 2018 Photo: Avery Barakett

Shannon Doyle explained a drill to a group of girls trying out hockey for the first time. Saturday, Feb 24, 2018 Photo: Avery Barakett

Group photo at the end of the intro session for girls in grades 3, 4 and 5 at Greenwich Skating Club. Photo Avery Barakett

Group photo at the end of the intro session for girls in grades 3, 4 and 5 at Greenwich Skating Club. Feb 24, 2108 Photo Avery Barakett

Girls in grades 3, 4, and 5 played Red Light/Green Light at Greenwich Skating Club, just one of the fun games to expose girls to ice hockey. Fe 24, 2018 Photo: Leslie Yager

Girls in grades 3, 4, and 5 played Red Light/Green Light at Greenwich Skating Club, just one of the fun games to expose girls to ice hockey. Fe 24, 2018 Photo: Leslie Yager

Awards plaques in the stairwell at the Greenwich Skating Club on Feb 24, 2018 Photo: Leslie Yager

Awards plaques in the stairwell at the Greenwich Skating Club on Feb 24, 2018 Photo: Leslie Yager

Girls in grades 3, 4 and 5 had a chance to try hockey at Greenwich Skating Club. Saturday, Feb 24, 2018 Photo: Leslie Yager


Image

Email news tips to Editor@GreenwichFreePress.com
Follow us on Facebook (select “See First)

Twitter @GWCHFreePress