by Janet Schultz
Hockey is not only about competitive sport, it’s about making great friendships that last a lifetime. That is according to three Williamsville High School players who began their careers at 5 and 6 years old and will now see their career and education take them in different directions.
Jenna Lukomoski, Holly Schemlzer and Amanda Gaffney played their last game for the Williamsville Girls High School hockey team in February. While their entire career was played with the Amherst Youth Hckey Organiation Jenna and Amanda played for Amherst 19U and Holly moved on to play Tier 1 with the Niagara Junior Purple Eagles this season.
Well let’s start at the beginning.
Jenna watched her brothers play and decided to give it a try.
“They were passing out flyers looking for players and I brought one home and told Dad I wanted to play.”
So she signed up for the Amherst house league and at seven years of age started to play goalie.
“I went on to play travel and it blossomed from there,” said Jenna. “We went to the rink every day and kept right on playing.”
Without a girls league she continued to play with the boys until high school.
“I regret not continuing with the boys because it is a faster game and more physical, but this season I faced a lot of pucks for the Williamsville team.” (Anyone seeing Jenna this season will remember all those shots she took with some amazing saves).
At five Holly hit the ice and played four years for Amherst and then she, too, switched to play boys hockey, also at Amherst. This is where Holly and Jenna came together.
While they were on separate teams in the house league, their parents knew each other and Holly played on a team with Jenna’s sister, so the family affair began. Enter the third of this party, it seems the Lukomski’s knew the Gaffney’s and there was Amanda. The trio ended up on a team together and went on to play selects and travel culminating with the Williamsville Girls Hockey Team.
Amanda began playing hockey at six years old.
“Growing up I was always involved with hockey. My brother played and my Dad grew up playing hockey so I decided to try it and I absolutely loved it,” said Amanda.
Holly and Amanda originally met when their brothers were playing.
“We’d get together and run around the rinks,” said Amanda.
“Our friendship grew out of hockey but we also have many other common interests and go to the same school.”
As Jenna also explains they were all leaders on their teams and on many of the teams they are the original three girls.
Some of their best memories are winning the States in 2015 and working their way to the National finals.
“I don’t think we would have been as close if it wasn’t for our parents,” said Holly. “They talk everyday and have as many memories as we do, especially Dads with road trips.”
…Now after a lot of successful hockey they graduated and move on to different cities.
Holly is be off to play for SUNY Plattsburgh, Amanda is off to play at SUNY Cortland and Jenna will be attending Erie Community College and giving up hockey for the time being.
An ironic part to those college selections is that Holly will face Amanda when Plattsburgh faces Cortland when Plattsburgh holds their season home opener on November 2 and 3.
“That’s a big change because I’ve grown up with the same people my whole life,” said Holly. “I’m heading off to a team where I don’t know anyone, a new coach, a new environment, changes in practice and in my everyday living.”
“Our friendship stays, it’s not going anywhere,” commented all three girls.
“Families play an important role in hockey,” said Amanda. “Without my parents support and dedication, hockey wouldn’t be possible. I also learned from my brother and sister and that was amazing.”
They do have advice for those girls coming up.
“Cherish the moments, enjoy it and have fun; but don’t make it the priority,” said Jenna.
“Enjoy every minute because it flies by,” said Holly. “At times I wish I was a freshman in school again.”
While none of them are focusing on their future in hockey, Amanda likes that the National Women’s Hockey League is an option after college.
But the friendship, that’s an option they are taking with them for a lifetime.