Women's club hockey team gains support and recognition from campus community

While the Geneseo Ice Knights may have just finished an exciting season, they are not the only ones that know how to work the ice. The recently formed women's club hockey team is ready to show what they're made of.

The idea to create a women's club hockey team originated with junior co-president Jennifer Delcourt, who began actively working on its development in the beginning of her second semester freshman year. At that time she was unaware of what she was getting herself into, as obtaining approval for a club team at Geneseo is no easy task. Delcourt approached many different people in the athletic department in order to find out exactly what she needed to do.

The first interest meeting was held in April 2005 to gauge interest on campus. Delcourt recalled approximately 20 people in attendance, including current co-president Melissa Pitarresi. After the meeting, there was still a lot to be done before applying for approval. In order to apply, a list of interested people and a written constitution, among other things, had to be provided.

It was not until last semester that Geneseo recognized the club. The long wait was due to concerns from the New Organization Recognition Committee (NORC) regarding insurance, ice time and possible opponents.

Delcourt admitted feeling discouraged due to the lack of quick response from the committee and being unaware of team expectations. While still in the midst of getting approved, Delcourt studied abroad last semester, and Pitarresi stepped up to take charge by researching information and appearing before the committee several times to answer questions.

Once the team was finally approved by the NORC, they still had to receive approval from Student Association (SA), which only occurred a few weeks ago. The team is still compiling the necessary paperwork to become a formal member of the Club Sports Association (CSA) before they will be granted full insurance and will be able to purchase their own ice time.

Currently, the team is on a one-year mandatory probation until next spring, which means that SA will not give them funding aside from insurance costs, and they cannot invite other teams to play on Geneseo ice.

The team practices once a week at the Ira S. Wilson Ice Arena on campus. They also informally gather at open skate on Tuesdays, and regularly attend the skate and shoot open ice on Thursday nights from 10:15-11:30 p.m. The women have benefitted from the support from the people that usually play during this time and their generosity in allowing them to use half of the ice for their drills. Occasionally, the others players agree to scrimmage with the team and several of them have begun to help coach the women on a regular basis, including seniors Rob Wetzel and juniors Tom Gallagher, Matt Brady, Eugene Ermolovich, along with fellow students Nick Tchurekow and Drew Field. The team hopes to set up scrimmages against nearby teams on their ice to start getting some experience.

Obtaining definite ice times was difficult for the women at first. Men's hockey coach Coach Schultz provided them with available times for their use. They have hopes of purchasing sheets of ice before it is taken down for the summer and plan on being able to start practicing at least once a week on Geneseo ice by next semester.

Currently, there are approximately 20 regularly active women, including Delcourt and Pitarresi, secretary Moe Mancuso, and treasurer Laura McPherson. There are 30 on the team roster, in addition to several other women who would like to play but cannot commit to the monetary and time requirements.

Some long-term goals of the team include establishing the team at Geneseo so they can continue to exist after the probationary period is over, joining local club hockey leagues and participating in collegiate competitions here and elsewhere, and developing the ice hockey skills of women at Geneseo.

The team has not yet joined any hockey club associations, but have hopes to do so once they receive recognition from CSA and their insurance is secured. Until then, the women will scrimmage on opponents' ice with any team.

The team is unsure of the date of their first official game, but plan on developing relations with other club and Division III teams at other colleges in the northeast so they can begin to face them in competition.

The women's club hockey team currently has a lot of support from many people such as their advisor, Gregg Hartvigsen of the biology department, as well as Coordinator of Student Organizations and Campus Activities Suzanne Sharp and College Union and Activities Director Chip Matthews, who helped to establish connections between the team and the school.

The women look forward to being able to get more practice time and eventually compete against other teams.