Ice Hockey Comes To Holy Cross

by Eric Meany

Holy Cross sophomore Emily Bauer's dream of playing high school hockey is coming true.

Holy Cross sophomore Emily Bauer’s dream of playing high school hockey is coming true.

KENSINGTON, Md. — When Emily Bauer wrote on her application to the Academy of the Holy Cross that she wanted to start an ice hockey team at the all-girls Catholic high school, she could hardly have known how soon her wish would come true.

Bauer, now a sophomore, first played alongside freshman Emily Kennedy with the Montgomery Youth Hockey Association, and this past summer their fathers pitched the idea of starting a team at Holy Cross to athletic director Jenna Ries.

Ries gave the men the go-ahead, and with very little time to get organized, they have put together a 14-member developmental squad that will play a schedule of games against girls teams from Holton-Arms, Bryn Mawr, St. Timothy’s and Archbishop Spalding through February. If all goes well this season, ice hockey will become a full-fledged varsity sport at Holy Cross for the 2012-2013 school year.

While Patrick Bauer has been the organizational force behind the team, the head-coaching duties have fallen to Kyran Kennedy, who held the same position at Georgetown Prep during the first seasons of that school’s ice hockey program.

Kennedy says the turnout at Holy Cross is roughly comparable to his experience at Georgetown, where the 1990 Hoyas squad had just 10 skaters and a goalie.

“That team is very competitive now,” Kennedy said. “But when we first started it, there were very few kids at the school that actually had played organized hockey. So it takes a while for the team to kind of develop and for kids to be attracted to the school that actually have played the game.”

Holy Cross has the benefit of starting off with a core group of dedicated and experienced hockey players. In addition to Emily Bauer and Emily Kennedy, the team will feature junior Grace Shewell, a member of the Washington Pride of the elite Junior Women’s Hockey League.

After those three, however, the experience level drops off considerably.

“We have some girls out there that were figure skaters, so they’re very good skaters but never played hockey before,” Patrick Bauer said. “We have a lot of athletes that are excellent athletes but have never played the game of hockey other than street hockey, and then we literally have people that are out there for the first time trying it. So we have the widest range of talent you can possibly imagine.”

Mary Kate Bula, the team’s lone senior, is new to the sport and was unaware of the team’s existence until being approached by a classmate earlier in the school year.

“Someone came into my history class and said ‘Hey, M.K., you’re playing hockey with me, right?'” she said.

Bula had never played hockey before, but was up for the challenge and is enjoying learning the sport.

“I’ve played pretty much every sport you can imagine,” she said. “I felt like, it’s my senior year; I should do something that I really want to do.”

The first-timers have more to adjust to than getting comfortable on skates and learning how to play. Hockey newcomers are sometimes surprised at just how expensive the sport can be.

“It’s not like baseball where you just pick up a glove and a bat and try it out,” Patrick Bauer said. “It’s $600 in equipment and ice time that is $300 an hour.”

Along with relying on donations of used equipment, the team is planning a fundraising effort to help ease the financial burden on its players.

Girls high school ice hockey teams are still somewhat of a rare breed in Maryland, with the addition of Holy Cross bringing the total in the state to five.

“I don’t know whether there’s enough girls playing organized hockey in a concentrated geographic area to support too many more schools,” Kyran Kennedy said. “In some of the co-ed schools, both public and private, it’s basically a boys team, but if there’s a good girl player, they’ll let her play on the squad.”

Haley Skarupa helped lead her co-ed Wootton High School team to the state championship as a freshman in 2009, and since then players such as Meghan Thompson of Good Counsel and Marisa Dreher of Sherwood have continued to hold their own alongside the boys.

At Holy Cross, where co-ed play is not an option, the creation of the girls ice hockey team has given students an opportunity that they would not otherwise have.

“I know my daughter, (and) that’s the only game she has a passion for,” Patrick Bauer said. “So this was her one chance to get a varsity letter, was in this sport. So that’s my hope — before she graduates she can get a varsity letter.”

originally published at Kensington Patch


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