New women's hockey club looks to rekindle tradition

imageEven as the Oswego State men’s ice hockey team wrapped up a SUNY Athletic Conference regular-season championship, another campus hockey squad continued to battle the challenge of rekindling a tradition.

A women’s ice hockey team, starting at the club level this year, marked the first time a women’s intercollegiate program has taken the ice of Romney Field House in around 20 years. The skaters notched their first win by beating the visiting University of Rochester 7-5 last semester and, while they have only one more win to show for their efforts, team president and captain Jenna Cobello is happy with their continued improvement.

“These girls are really stepping up to these veteran teams and becoming a team,” she said.

Cobello, a junior studio art major, hails from a hockey family. Her father Rick captained and played center for the Lakers in the late 1960s. Her brother and two sisters also played. Cobello first took up the sport in fifth grade in Glens Falls and has played ever since.

She wanted to share the joy of hockey with other students and credited Mike Paestella of the college’s Student Organization Services with helping her take the necessary steps to establish the club.

At an initial September meeting, the fledgling club’s officers introduced themselves and discussed the expenses of hockey equipment.

“The girls that had already played were really nice and didn’t intimidate the new girls,” Ashley Perkins, a junior business administration major, recalled. “They made it seem like it was something we could really learn to do and have fun.” The meeting resulted in 20 women joining the team, many of whom had to learn the sport on the fly.

Because they were a new club not yet fully recognized by the Student Association, initial funding came from players’ own pockets. They needed to raise around $3,500 for such expenses as equipment, game referees and travel. Sponsorship from Stewart’s and the Press Box, as well as smaller amounts from fund-raisers, offset a portion of expenses.

The women’s team has games and practices at Romney Field House, as well as outdoor running drills twice a week to build endurance.

It has proven a labor of love, as some players have quit jobs and sacrificed sleep for early morning practices. “I don’t know one girl who hasn’t sacrificed something yet,” Cobello said.

Defender Rachel Ritchie, a sophomore health promotion and wellness major, enjoyed picking up hockey again. “It’s fun,” she said. “I’m glad there is finally a club to get these girls out here to play a game.”

Cobello hopes this team will lead to re-establishing an official varsity program, which she believes would support the school’s hockey tradition. With the new Campus Center, which will include an ice rink, expected to open in 2006, the timing could be right, she said.

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PHOTO CAPTION: Back on ice—Alison Hadler skates in as Christine Hammerl, in goal, scoops up a puck at a recent practice for the new women’s hockey club team in SUNY Oswego. Even though many participants had never played ice hockey before this season, the club has already knocked off a couple of teams from other colleges and continues to improve every week, said Jenna Cobello, club president.

(Posted: Feb 23, 2005)