Mountaineers’ women reaching new heights
The Vail Mountaineers Hockey Club (VMHC) has swelled from 10 girls in 2012-13 to more than 40 this season, citing continued growth of the women’s game across Colorado.
VMHC girls hockey representative Karl Borski says being able to ice three teams this season between the VMHC and Vail Recreation District (VRD) at the 10U, 12U and 14U levels is encouraging to say the least.
“It’s difficult to say what’s caused the recent surge here, but certainly the efforts of our local recreational programs have helped, hosting special events like ‘Play Hockey For Free’ – things like that,” said Borski. “Our club more recently has been very helpful in making hockey as affordable as possible for the younger girls just getting started.”
Borski said that three years ago, he saw the need for a local girls program largely in part because of his daughter’s experience as a Squirt.
“I saw a huge part of a team sport missing for her,” said Borski. “While she sat in an empty locker room changing by herself, the rest of her team (all boys) was in another room.
“As the year drew to a close, I asked myself what options she’d have as she got older. I thought there had to be other girls around who played and would be interested in being on an all-girls team, so in the spring I attended our club’s annual meeting to see what kind of support we’d have. They came back and said, ‘You find the players, and we’ll support it.’”
That summer, Borski called everyone he knew with a daughter who’d either being playing boys hockey or maybe played but quit because they lost interest competing on an all-boys team. He also called around to clubs in nearby communities who had girls who might like to join an all-girls team.
“By the time fall rolled around, I mustered up a 12U roster of 10 girls, plus a goalie, spanning two counties,” said Borski. “We were off and running with our first all-girls squad.”
The following year, Vail had 15 girls join its 10U program, mostly migrating from the VRD and Western County Eagle Metropolitan Recreation District (WCEMRD) Mite and Mini-Mite programs.
The 12U program had 10 girls; three from the previous year moved up to 14U, but the program picked up two girls from Grand Junction and one from Rifle.
At the 14U level, Vail combined with Summit to form a team.
Now with coaches Ryan Zastrow, Dave Bishop, Scott Booth, Mick Kelly, Bryan Desmond and Borski on board, the Mountaineers’ future holds plenty of promise.
“The only way any program can sustain the long haul is through active participation of the parents and organizations like VMHC, VRD and WCEMRD,” Borski said.
“Building a good tiered program like Colorado Select and the (Rocky Mountain Lady) RoughRiders requires a solid base (of player participation) at the recreational level.
“Mountain communities struggle with player populations as a whole, but through combined efforts from nearby associations, I think a club like VMHC can contribute to a tiered program.”
Borski also believes that, with the right people in the right places, the program could make waves throughout the Rocky Mountain District and beyond.
“I think with clubs like Aspen, Steamboat, Summit and Vail, we could put together a really good Mountain tier hockey program,” said Borski. “I want to work with these nearby clubs and associations to develop these programs to compete not only regionally, but maybe one day nationally.”
– Matt Mackinder