Home High School Rochester Begins Process to Ice Section V Girls Varsity Ice Hockey League

Rochester Begins Process to Ice Section V Girls Varsity Ice Hockey League

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BY RANDY SCHULTZ –

The Greater Rochester Girls High School Hockey 2023 Spring Showcase was recently held at the Rochester Ice Center in Perinton, NY.

One hundred thirty-two high school age girls attended the Showcase. Event organizer, Jamie Buss admitted that this Showcase didn’t happen overnight.

“Talks about having a girl’s high school hockey league in Rochester actually began four years ago,” stated Buss. “We thought we had the numbers, but nobody had ever sat down and figured it out.

“When COVID hit, that stopped everything. But within the past four or five months conversations began happening again. And this time we said that ‘we know we can do this.’

“But nobody has reached out to all of the different organizations to find out how many girls we have.

“So we got a committee together, we made that effort to find out how many girls we have. We have identified 200 girls in the Section V community that would be considered high school eligible next year (seventh grade through 12th grade and includes current sixth graders through 11th graders).”

The first step that the committee did was to send out an interest form.

“We had non-identifying information about those 200 girls based on reports we got back from (other hockey organizations) the Edge, ROCO, Jr. Rochester Amerks, Webster and the Empire League in finding out how many girls we had,” continued Buss. “The interest form went out through all of those organizations.

“We got identifying information back telling us the district that the girls play in, their ages, their grades, what level they were currently playing in, where the goalies are. And the goalies are a huge piece of this.

“Once we got all of this we came up with the showcase as their first opportunity to get all of these girls on the ice.”

The reason for all of this was because many of these Rochester-based girls don’t play for Rochester- based teams. Instead they played for teams in Syracuse, Buffalo and the Adirondacks. They simply didn’t play in Rochester.

“The majority of these girls want to play girls high school hockey,” explained Buss. “They don’t want to play with the boys in boys high school hockey.

“Yes, there are teams they (girls) can play for. They can try out, they can make the team but they’re not going to play.

“They have ponytails. They’re going to have a target on their back the entire time they are on the ice.

“It isn’t fair. It isn’t equitable. A lot of these girls don’t want that opportunity. They want to play with their peers.”

So the Showcase became a reality. There were 132 girls divided up among eight teams. A handful of coaches were brought in from the main organizations assisted with the breakdown of teams so everything would be equal.

The Showcase is the first piece of a much larger puzzle that is being put together to launch a girls high school hockey league.

So what is next?

“The real work begins now,” responded Buss. “We have shared all of the information we have gathered so far with all of the athletic directors in Section V.

“Some have responded and some have not. So the next step is to get the main districts and get them to a table to talk. We feel that we’ve done all the hard work, now they have to make something happen.

“We feel that these girls deserve everything opportunity in hockey that the boys have. Section V currently has 200 girls that want to play high school hockey but currently can’t.”

Does this organizational group have a target date in mind that they would like to see the high school hockey league launched?

“In the Fall,” stated Buss. “It is going to happen in the Fall, in one fashion or the another.

“With school budgets getting ready to be voted on very shortly, a varsity program this late in the game is most likely not going to happen in the next school year.

“But in the 2024-25 year we will be bringing girls varsity hockey into the conversation. In the meantime we will be looking for other ways to raise money.

“We will also look at each school to see if there are enough girls to play for that school, or if some schools will have to combine to make up a single team.

“If this is club level teams, which I believe will happen this Fall because we will be working on our own. But we have to do it in a way that will make it easy to slide into a varsity program.

“So it is our hope to get things started next year so we can slide into that varsity program in 2024-25.

“This is something that can’t wait anymore. There are 200 high school girls out there that want to play girls high school hockey.

“We’ve got it moving. We’ve just got to keep it moving. We know there will be bumps along the way. We’re banking on six teams to start out with.

“But it is going to happen.”

Photo Gallery by Janet Schultz, NYHOL© Copies available at https://janetschultz.smugmug.com