On Monday, January 16, the Harwood Union High School’s girls’ varsity hockey team held a youth hockey day at the Ice Center in Waterbury. Roughly 40 young skaters of all ages and skill levels came out to improve their skills and have fun playing hockey.
“I really wasn’t expecting the turn out that we had,” said Harwood girls’ varsity coach Katie Martin. “The levels were from beginner working on crates and using chairs to intermediate who are working on their forward and backward skating, and shooting and passing all the way to the higher levels who were able to skate with our girls’ and boys’ varsity teams. We’re lucky that we have two great varsity programs to really help to foster youth hockey in our community and like to volunteer their time in their own practice hours towards activities like this.
“The object of [the youth hockey day] was to get more kids in our local community skating and playing hockey at a younger age. One of the struggles that the girls’ varsity program faces is that it only has one feeder program that comes into the high school level which was the Harwood Youth Hockey program/what is currently now known as the Blackbear Youth Hockey program. At the high school level, Harwood does receive some players from Northfield High School, but in the recent years that number has dwindled down to only a few. We really want to get more athletes in the community to try hockey, and specifically girls for our program. We are finding that a lot of girls try the sport at the high school level when they are asked by friends and peers, and they enjoy it but wish they had started it earlier in life. By promoting this every season, the goal is that youth student athletes will try to support and find the love that we have for it as well.”