Cosmopolitan Review: April 5 - April 11
Yvonne Delaney Mitchell | 4/5/2018, midnight
April showers bring May flowers, and I don’t know about you but I am ready to see some colorful blooms after the gray skies and snow, sleet and rain. My favorite flowers bloom this time of year, gardenias and lilacs, both known for their fragrant blooms. And I absolutely love seeing the pear blossom trees flower along Lenox Avenue. Park Avenue can have their cherry blossoms, but we have our pears.
Perhaps not so happy to see signs of spring are the members of Lady Harlem, the girls’ ice hockey team that recently wrapped up their season. Ice Hockey in Harlem formed in 1987, when part of the oversized Lasker Ice Skating Rink, located in Central Park at 110th Street, divided its court in half so as to accommodate both figure skaters and hockey. Of the 240 children who participate in the program, 76 are girls. When the coaches noticed that some of the teenage girls no longer wanted to play on the boys’ teams, program director Brad Preston felt the time was right to start a league of their own. “We had a really gung-ho group of girls who, even though they would have been fine playing with boys, we thought, let’s get them their own team and see if that works for them,” said Preston.
Head coach of the girls’ team is Amanda Adams, who played at Yale and coached Division I hockey. She stated to the 125th BID Newsletter, “One thing you want to teach girls is to be competitive. And that going after each other is a good thing and not a boy trait. That’s a huge life skill. This year I noticed that the more you get into the nitty-gritty of skill details and the details of the game, the more the girls are focused and driven to get better every day. We want people to have fun and to have a positive experience. But we also want them to get real, hard skill development.”
Using the skill to strengthen academic focus is just one component of the program. Participation in the game is tied to mandatory weekly classes in math and geography.
Statistics from the USA Hockey league show that girl’s hockey is one of the fastest growing sports among teenage girls in the country. The 2016-17 season reported the total number of girls ages 13 to 19 playing hockey was 18,185. That’s quite an impressive number. Hockey is often thought of as a Caucasian sport dominated by players from Eastern European countries, but a change in that perception is beginning to take root.
One of the Lady Harlem team members, Marwa Soussi, is proof positive of the changing color of hockey. Soussi said, “Myself, I’m actually Arab. My parents are from North Africa. We have Mexican players, players from Venezuela. It’s amazing.”
Playing right wing and center for Lady Harlem is Christmarie Salcedo, age 17. Of her experience, Salcedo stated, “The competition, the feeling you get when you’re on the ice, that for me is so fun. And it’s rare to see someone playing hockey. I liked that.”