Getting up at 7:30 in the morning to go to hockey practice in the dead of a South Bend winter isn’t what most college students have in mind when they think of a good time.
Then again, if you’d had to wait as long as senior Stacie Green to play hockey at Notre Dame, you’d understand why she and the other 17 members of the new women’s ice hockey club team make the sacrifice every Tuesday and Thursday morning.
“I started trying to form a team freshman year and it took me three years,” says Green, a center from Baltimore, Maryland. “I finally got a couple other people who were really interested too, and we got approval in October.”
The red tape in getting the University to sanction the club delayed the team’s debut until December 8. But it didn’t hold them back on the ice as they dominated a Bowling Green club that has existed for several years and won 6-0.
“Our first game was great, especially because we didn’t know how we would do,” says sophomore Colleen Bell from Akron, Ohio. “It was amazing how well we worked together.”
In February the women traveled to Washington, D.C., and defeated American University 7-0, out-shooting their opponents 55-8. They then lost their first game in history, to the University of Maryland 4-2. But even the loss came down to the final minute (an open-net goal provided the final margin), and Maryland was the defending Mid-Atlantic Women’s Collegiate Hockey Association champion.
Team members say they’re thrilled with the results, especially since they never thought they’d have a chance to play organized hockey at Notre Dame.
Senior goalie Ellen Block grew up in Toronto, Canada, where women’s hockey teams are commonplace.
“I was hopeful they’d have [a team] here, but they didn’t, so I played field hockey as a substitute for three years. Nothing against field hockey, but I just love ice hockey,” she says.
Fan support has not been a problem. Almost 300 attended the club’s first and, as of the end of February, only home game. The group hoped to schedule another home game, but that was dependent on whether the men’s varsity team qualified for its league tournament.
One difficulty the team continues to face is funding. “The University doesn’t give us any money for three years, and we have to rent the ice at the Joyce for $100 per session,” says Green. “Parents have donated some, but it’s mostly out of our pockets.”
Bell says her parents are two of the team’s biggest supporters. Her father, Steve Bell ’75, played varsity and intramural hockey for Notre Dame, and her mother hails from Canada.
“My parents are unstoppable when it comes to hockey. They’re in love,” the sophomore says. “It just means so much to them, especially for my dad, having me play here.”