When Dell Truax moved from Long Island to Colorado five years ago, he took on a big task: running Durango Youth Hockey’s first girls’ team, a 14-and-Under squad.
Now in his first year as Durango’s hockey director, Truax has helped the association continue growing — especially on the girls’ side.
Durango played its first-ever 12U girls’ games in late January, when it made the nearly four-hour drive to Gunnison, Colorado, for a two-game series.
Durango’s location in the southwest corner of Colorado, much closer to parts of Utah, New Mexico and Arizona than to the populous Denver, Colorado Springs or Pueblo areas, means a limited number of local opponents. At times, it can be hard to even fill a roster.
Truax took nine girls to Gunnison to play against West Elk for their debut as the Durango Steamers 12U. However, the team had to bring along one of its boys to play goalie for the first game, a 4-1 loss. West Elk had two goalies on its roster and let Durango use one of them throughout the second game, which the Steamers won, 3-2.
“They were very nice and very welcoming,” said Truax, who coached the team, which typically also has two female coaches, on the opening trip. “They knew what we were trying to do and helped us out a lot. They’re helping us grow the game and made sure our girls had a good time.”
Truax, a USA Hockey Level 5 Coach and an instructor in the USA Hockey Coaching Education Program, is hopeful that the girls who played in Gunnison will stick around, similar to the girls from his original 14U team, who stayed together for three years.
In all, Durango has 40 girls involved in learn-to-skate, six with mini-mite hockey and 25 spread throughout its house and travel teams for players ages 8-18. They’re part of an overall program that has seen the number of youth players grow from 112 last season to 140 this season.
Because of the limited local opponents in the Durango area, Truax is not ready to end the practice of the 10U and 12U girls playing with boys in Durango. Gradually adding more girls-only competition, however, could be in the future.
“I’ve been having the girls play on the boys’ team for squirt and peewees,” Truax said. “Now, I’ve tried to put them together as a group for this first thing in Gunnison, and I’m hoping to have another in March.”
Truax’s responsibilities as hockey director — “I’m trying to look at the whole big picture,” he said — will determine whether he can move ahead with a full season for the Durango 12U girls in another year. He wants to be sure not to hurt the existing squirt and peewee travel teams by taking the girls off of them.
Truax held Durango’s fifth annual girls’ camp in October, bringing in 50 girls from three states (and several moms). He was also involved in girls’ hockey as the coach of a statewide 14U selects team last year and uses the clinic as a base for assembling teams from the region for tournaments.
The involvement of 15 women in a hockey clinic could also boost the girls’ game.
“We did it for the women in town who play hockey, and it was good to do for them, but I also did it because I wanted the moms coming to the rink so I can get the daughters to start playing hockey,” Truax said.
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.