Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


February 6, 2014

Breakaway season

Girls JV hockey team finds unlikely success on ice


“The next day, we made an announcement (over the school loudspeakers) for girls to come and play,” said Morissette, a 17-year-old junior who plays center forward and right wing. “We told all our friends, ‘Come to the rink and have fun.’”

The word also went out via text message, Facebook, Twitter and every other conceivable form of communication.

The result was nothing less than astounding.

“We got one kid on the first day, two kids on the second day and by the end of the second night, we had 10 more,” Keady said. “By the end of the week, we had 62 kids in the program.”

Now, there are enough girls for a JV game team and a JV practice squad, as they call it.

But that wasn’t the end of it.

What happened next “was overwhelming and humbling,” Keady said.

As word spread across town that 40 new skaters needed gear, the community rallied.

Keady said that over a couple of nights, people brought pads, skates, sticks, helmets, socks and all the rest to the rink at Phillips Academy, where the team plays.

It’s not only that the girls needed gear, they needed to know how to put it on, too.

Freshman goalie Katie Holden, 15, had never laced up skates, much less put on goalie pads. Nick Scarpa, a goalie on the Andover High boys team, stepped in to help.

“The call was put out for donations, and (Scarpa) donated almost everything he had,” said Holden’s mother, Janice, a former goalie herself with Phillips Academy’s first girls team back in the ‘70s and then at Brown University in Rhode Island.

“It’s a lot of hard work,” Katie Holden said. “But it’s really fun to be part of a team.”

Holden isn’t the only first-time skater on the ice. The team has two, distinct squads: the JV game team made up of girls who were already going to make the roster along with a few new additions, and the practice squad, made up mostly of newcomers. There are first-time skaters, a bunch of former figure skaters, a few pond-skating veterans and lots of really good athletes with big hearts and even bigger smiles.

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