A quick glance at a list of Rochester Edge alumni speaks volumes about the talent of the young women who’ve played for the western New York-based association.
At the top of the list are two U.S. Olympians, Lyndsay Wall (2002, 2006) and Kim Insalaco (2006). Coming up the ranks are Jenny Ryan, a University of Wisconsin freshman and a member of the U.S. National Under-18 Team, plus Boston University’s Jill Cardella and Minnesota State University’s Lauren Kirwan, each of whom has participated in several USA Hockey National Development Camps.
In addition, Mercyhurst College’s Kathy Donohue was invited to a USA Hockey Player Development Camp.
“Kim Insalaco was part of the first wave of girls to come through our program,” said Rochester Edge Executive Board Member Jeff Kolcon. “Since her era, the Edge program has evolved to the point where it produces high-output girls.
“We’ve always been a program that’s been between 100 and 150 girls. For us to have an extremely high output coming out of the high end is incredible.”
Edge coaches and board members pride themselves on being able to attract the “most advanced players in western New York.”
“I guess the way I would define advanced is by referring to our alumni,” Kolcon said. “We consider advanced to be girls who go on to play at another level above our program. That’s our measuring stick in terms of what we’ve produced over the last 15 years.”
This season the program is fielding teams at the Under-10, Under-12, Under-14, Under-16, Under-19 and Above-30 levels. Teams compete in the Tier I Lower Lakes League out of Southeastern Ontario and the Tier II Great Lakes League in western New York.
“Between Tier I and Tier II, we’ve had girls play on five state championship teams and on a silver medal team at nationals,” Kolcom said. “It’s clear that you can grow a program from scratch and have great success.”
One of several reasons the team has been able to develop high-end talent is a try hockey for free program at the Bill Gray’s Regional Iceplex.
“We recently reinstated it,” Kolcon said. “It’s a joint effort between Rochester Youth Hockey, Monroe County Youth Hockey, the Iceplex and Maksymum Hockey. Those four entities are working together to grow youth hockey, especially on the girls’ side.
“The last time we did it was when the girls were 6 to 8 years old. That was nine or 10 years ago. The success of that program fed all of the girls’ programs in Rochester for a number of years. But we all pulled away from it and some [girls] fell through the cracks. Of that ’94-’95 class that come out of try hockey for free, about 19 girls that participated in that program went on to play college hockey.”
In the same vein, the Edge’s July Camp has also been a plus. It’s open to girls from 6 to 18 and is held the same week the National Development Camps are being held at the Iceplex.
“We’ve been able to cherry pick some of the greatest women’s hockey minds,” Kolcon said. “We’ve had [Harvard and 2014 U.S. Olympic coach] Katey Stone and [U.S. Olympians] Angela Ruggiero, Cammi Granato and Shelley Looney speak.
“Every year our camp is implemented by our alumni. The Edge girls have come back and supported our program. We’ve done a good job of making them feel welcome to come back.
“We’ve established a path so that if you’re a Tier I girl, we encourage girls not to quit the sport,” Kolcon added. “We’re talking about having the ability to play at the next level. As far as I’m concerned, there isn’t a camp in the world that offers anything better than we have.”
There’s more. Edge girls also can participate in a girls’ academy, which is run in conjunction with Maksymum Hockey at the Iceplex.
“The girls get two hours a day for skill development,” Kolcon said. “They have unlimited access to a performance center. There are structured classes after school for girls who want to put in the extra effort. We also have a shooting treadmill and nutritional training.
“For a female hockey player, it’s like a candy store.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.