“Unique” is the proper adjective to use when discussing the Selects Hockey Program from Portsmouth, N.H.
During the regular season, girls play in their own leagues. Tryouts are held in Buffalo and Detroit. Players are then selected to play on teams in international competition.
“The company started in 2003 only with one boys’ team,” Director of Girls’ Hockey Kathy Pippy said. “The idea was to take the team to Europe. To be honest, it was a fun thing for a few boys.
“I started in 2010, and they realized that girls wanted the same opportunities that boys do — to play with other elite players so they could experience something different. Parents want the same for their daughters as they do for their sons … the opportunity to play on elite teams with other girls.”
Added Pippy: “It’s a unique opportunity to provide the same experience that elite-level girls can have at the younger ages.”
In 2013, Selects Hockey will field a 2000 Select Team; 2001 and 2002 Junior Selects; 1999 Selects; 1998 Selects; 1997 Selects; and Under-18 Selects.
The following Selects/Selects alumni were picked for the 2013 U.S. U-18 team: Jincy Dunne (O’Fallon, Mo.), Maddie Rolfes (West Des Moines, Iowa), Jennifer Ryan (Victor, N.Y.), Melissa Samoskevich (Newtown, Conn.) and Grace Zarzecki (Chicago).
The following played on the 2012 U.S. U-18 team: Zarzecki; Briana Mastel (Wallingford, Conn.); and Courtney Burke (Albany, N.Y.).
In addition, a host of Selects players have gone on to play college hockey.
The list includes young women like Erin Ambrose (Clarkson), Ailish Forfar (Dartmouth), Shawna Lesperance (Maine), Emily Fulton (Cornell), Kate Martini (Yale) and Sara Robson (Brown).
“Obviously, college coaches are going to go where good players are playing,” Pippy said. “But what’s different with the Selects is we have top coaches who also teach girls to be good people.
“For example, if a player has a bad attitude, the coach will pull her aside and tell her, ‘If you want to play at a high level, you have to be supportive and be a good teammate.’ If coaches know girls have played for the Selects for two or three years, they know they’re not only getting good players but also good persons.”
Topping the list of Selects coaches are two Olympians, Jenny Potter (Edina, Minn.) and Jamie Hagerman (North Andover, Mass.).
“They have the knowledge and experience so they can impart to the kids what it takes in terms of this is your commitment level,” Pippy said. “They need to learn: if you want to play at the next level you have to work hard.”
Part of the Selects’ philosophy is that “players are pushed to perform and excel just as they would in college or international hockey.”
But instead of pushing players until they fall off the proverbial cliff, the coaches know when to ease up and not create a counter-productive situation.
“I think because these coaches have played at the highest level, they’re pushing the kids but it’s in a positive environment,” Pippy said. “They may say to a team, ‘This is what we want you to work on in a game.’ They also may pull two or three girls aside and show them what they want them to work on in a game. It’s learning not only how to be a good players but also learning how to play with good players.
“We really try to get people who not only have played at the highest level but also want to help girls become the next generation of elite players.”
That’s fostered in part by the Girls’ World Selects program, which was established in 2010.
Four teams are compiled at the 2000 level to participate in the Under-14 World Selects Invitational. The next one is scheduled for April 2013 in Sweden.
The U.S., Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic also will be represented while other “potential” teams could come from Italy, Hungary and Russia.
Besides giving American girls a chance to play at a high level, the girls also are exposed to a country’s culture.
“In Sweden, we do a boat tour around Stockholm and learn about how the locks protect the city,” Pippy said. “We go to the Vosa Museum in Stockholm and learn about the Vikings.
“It’s more than just hockey. They get to learn about places where they’re going and they have interaction with other teams. In many cases, they become Facebook friends.”
Of course, the American girls aren’t the only ones who benefit from these tournaments. The same is true for girls from other countries.
“One of the underlying missions of the Selects is to help girls in other countries raise their level of hockey so, down the road, they can be more competitive at the international level,” Pippy said. “Younger girls in other countries play on boys’ teams because there aren’t girls’ teams per se. For these girls to be able to participate in a Select tournament at their age level, allows them to have success.
“When playing against girls their own age, they may feel they can make the National Team for Sweden or Russia. Playing in the World Selects Invitational against American kids helps boost their confidence.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.
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