The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

The voice of Lyons Township students for more than 100 years

LION Newspaper

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Girls hockey team seeks exposure; combats gender norms for sport

Six schools come together to form one hockey team
LT players come together after Thursday practice on Nov. 30 at Downers Grove Ice Arena (Garrity/LION).

For ages, hockey has always been considered a predominantly male sport. But why? Why would physical activity be limited by gender? That’s the question that many women involved in sports have been asking, and especially the players on the Grizzlies Hockey team.

“As a kid, I was always watching the boys hockey, and now getting to see on the TV some of these amazing girls that play is so cool,” team captain Ella Stamer ‘24 said. “Even seeing the younger girls coming to the rink and getting involved in hockey is just awesome to see.”

The Grizzlies Hockey team was formed in 2021, and offers girls who play hockey the chance to have a high school career, which wasn’t common for coaches Bailey Coyne and Monika Barret growing up. The team is a combination of six different schools, including Lyons Township, Hinsdale Central, Hinsdale South, Willowbrook, Downers Grove North and Downers Grove South. 

“It’s really cool that these girls have the opportunity to do something that they love with their friends,” Coyne said. “Growing up, I played with my brother, given that the female game was still growing back then. Today, there are definitely more options for girls to be involved in the game from all aspects on and off the ice. Given the more recent developments of the Professional Womens Hockey League, young female hockey players now have the opportunity to dream of a viable living as a professional athlete.”

In recent years, the appreciation for women’s hockey has grown exponentially. In 2018, the Winter Olympic Women’s Hockey Gold Medal game was the most streamed event in all of the Games in the United States, which is remarkable considering the time difference.

The team practices on Mondays and Thursdays at the Downers Grove Ice Arena at 6:15, and the players span all grade levels. Other members from LT include Chloe Ariens ‘27, Violet Fotino ‘27, Lily Heflin ‘27, Addie Proctor ‘25, Dani Schau ‘27, Bea Waite ‘26, and Winn Waite ‘26. 

“On and off the ice we’re all each other’s best friends,” Stamer said. “It’s always been a positive dynamic. There’s so many different people from different schools, and I was worried about getting along with people, but it’s never been a problem.”

The sport functions like a club, and is associated with LT. However, the nature of the team makes it difficult to get attention from the high schools since there’s not as many girls from one area, and they are not directly affiliated with the schools, Barret said. Currently, the team is not listed under anything on the LT website, and not many people know about it. 

“We reached out to the principal and the Weirdos last year and did not get anything back,” Stamer said. “We also tried to get on the announcements. I really hope that eventually we get fans at our games. We’ve never had a student section and it would be really cool to see that support.”

Exposure aside, the team is a great opportunity for girls to experience competitive hockey, and to allow them to prepare for college hockey. Both coaches, Barret and Coyne, had competitive careers at Miami of Ohio and Northeastern, respectively. There are also current alumni from the program all around the country competing from DIII to DI levels. 

“Girls are always coming to us for help with college stuff,” Coyne said. “We are always more than happy to write letters of recommendation while coaching them, especially having gone through it ourselves.”

The girls have seen success so far as a team, Stamer said. Many of the players are associated with other hockey leagues, and get lots of practice time on ice. They placed second in their tiering last season, and have been growing greatly as a group.

“It’s very important today to see more women in sports and in the work environment, and it’s definitely good for us to start breaking down those gender norms surrounding the sport,” she said. “I really hope that more people will start to come to our games, and we get more girl hockey players out here with us.”

The girl’s next game will be on Dec. 22 at Seven Bridges ice rink in Woodridge, Illinois. 

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Katie Garrity, Sports Editor

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