Girls can pass, shoot the puck just like boys
Gender doesn’t matter to Kayla Calvin. All she wants to do is play hockey.
With the 3-year-old Junior Mavericks hockey program at Glacier Ice Arena still in its relative infancy, there are no teams offered strictly for girls.
“I like hockey,” the 15-year-old Calvin said. “It’s a passion.”
She’s been playing it since she was a 10-year-old in Minnesota. When she moved here at the end of the summer, she realized that if she wanted to continue with her passion, she’d have to play on a boys team.
Calvin is one of four girls playing on the Grand Valley Youth Hockey Association’s Midget (18-and-under) White team.
Calvin, Aubrie Golden and Jennifer Hicks are all
15-year-old Fruita Monument High School students. The lone non-Wildcat in the foursome is Emily Kilgore, a 16-year-old Grand Junction student.
Golden moved to the Grand Valley early last summer from Anchorage, Alaska. Like Calvin, she’s an experienced player, having taken up the game seven years ago.
Calvin and Golden are used to playing in girls leagues, so making the switch to playing on a boys team was a real adjustment.
Both agree that the two main differences are the finesse and the physicality.
“The checking has been more physical,” said Calvin, who’s a right wing. “I have lots of bruises.”
“I got creamed twice,” Kilgore said of taking a couple of shots this season from her defender position.
The girls had to spend an extra half hour at one of the early practices learning how to properly check.
During preseason practices, they all had to prove themselves to the boys.
“Sometimes they hit us extra hard,” Calvin said.
Once they proved themselves, they were part of the fraternity. On the ice, they’re just one of the guys now. If anything, while their teammates tend to work them hard in practice, they are the girls’ enforcers during games.
“Our team sticks up for us,” Golden said.
“They watch our backs,” Calvin said.
Hicks is a goalie. She took up the sport three years ago at the urging of some of her male friends.
“I’ve always played with boys,” Kilgore said.
“We’re more about strategy,” Golden said.
“(Boys) are more about hitting,” Calvin added.
While the slap shots come a little harder from the boys, “They miss the net a whole lot more when I’m in the net,” Hicks said.
Kilgore’s father Brian is the team’s manager.
While the girls had to make the adjustment playing the boys’ game, the boys also had to adapt to having girls on the team.
“Most of them were fine with it,” Brian Kilgore said.
Having himself been a former hockey player, he was quick to note one distinction.
“(Calvin and Golden) are some of the better skaters on the team,” he said.
In the end, it’s all about fun. No matter how hard they get checked, the foursome enjoys being on the ice, and that’s what keeps them coming back.
Each week, their skills (and their checking) seem to get a little better.
“They’re good,” Brian Kilgore said. “They’re doing well.”