skip navigation

Inspired by Daughter to Make Girls Hockey a Reality

By Mike Scandura - Special to USA Hockey, 01/08/17, 9:00AM MST


Dan Feldman set out to grow an all-girls program after his daughter’s experience

Dan Feldman

Dan Feldman’s daughter, Julia, was frustrated having to play primarily on male-dominated hockey teams. But if not for that frustration, the Amherst Hockey Association might not have an all-girls program today.

“Seven years ago, Julia was a mite,” Feldman said. “She had just learned to skate and really wanted to play hockey. That was back in the day when we were doing full-ice mites. She was on a team with 16 kids and every other player was a boy. She really felt isolated, like she was on an island.

“It was discouraging for her. I told her I would always be there for her. The boys were big, strong and physical. She was somewhat petite. She didn’t have any girls to share her thoughts with on hockey from a girls’ perspective and she quit.”

Julia Feldman tried moving on to swimming and volleyball, but she missed hockey.

“I was frustrated that she had to deal with that issue which boys don’t have to deal with,” Feldman said.

That’s when Feldman decided to do what he could to help, and became more involved with the AHA’s administration.

Initially, he queried board members about establishing an all-girls program. He didn’t encounter any resistance to the idea, but there were practical concerns about diverting resources and energy from the AHA’s boys’ travel teams.

“We only had so much money and ice time plus a limited number of coaches,” Feldman said. “People said we support the concept but we don’t want it to take away from our primary mission which is to provide travel hockey for boys.

“I did a lot of research. I spoke with different associations that had girls programs and asked how they generated interest and brought it in at a cost where families would give it a try.”      

After he derived sufficient information, Feldman felt he needed somebody else to champion it.

“I could pave the way,” he said. “I could show a person what we needed to do. But I didn’t want to be seen as focusing all of my attention on that as compared with the 200-plus boys in the association.

“I found the perfect person in Karen Skolfield who is a professor at UMass-Amherst. She was on the same coaching staff as I was as an assistant.”

The next step was to create a girls hockey committee. Then Feldman and Skolfield had to find ice time for practices and scrimmages.

“It was perfect timing because USA Hockey came up with a try-hockey-for-free day in 2015 and the roll out occurred the following season,” Feldman said. “We marketed that to the best of our ability and placed in the top five in the country for try-hockey for-free attendance.”

Due in large part to the efforts of Feldman and Skolfield, a girls’ program was finally on solid ice.

“All of a sudden moms and dads came out of the woodwork,” Feldman said. “A lot of dads who had been supporting their sons let everybody know they also had daughters.

“I think there are a lot of folks who feel you can’t create a new division. But if there is one, they can support it.”

Approximately 30 girls signed up for the 2015-16 season, which was only the beginning.

“This year we have a girls house team with 27 players and a waiting list of girls who would have liked to be on the team,” Feldman said. “We didn’t want to have too many players on the ice for the number of coaches that were available.

“We also have a snowball effect for the girls who are on our travel teams. For example we have 14 girls in our squirt division. We have a ton of girls in our learn-to-skate program. Overall, we probably are close to 80-plus girls.”

To say the response from parents was beyond expectations would be an understatement.

“It was through the roof,” Feldman said. “We were like rock stars. There were people in our association who only had sons but were excited about our having a girls’ program.”

The AHA girls’ program then received a major bonus when it applied for and was awarded a $5,000 grant from the Mike Cheever Foundation. The grant is designed for Massachusetts hockey associations to help increase participation, retain existing players and to implement practices consistent with the American Development Model which the AHA adopted six years ago.

“We were able to obtain ice,” Feldman said. “It helped with our marketing and our ability to obtain equipment.

“I laugh when I tell my daughter our hockey division should be named after her. Had she not had the experience she did I might not have recognized the need and attacked it.”

Now, Feldman is more involved with the AHA than he could have imagined because not only is he the association president, he’s also the ADM coordinator and the learn-to-skate coordinator.

Considering the AHA serves eight other communities in western Massachusetts besides Amherst, Feldman at times finds himself in what he describes as “a part-to-full-time job.”

The commitment of people like Feldman is one reason why USA Hockey is celebrating 80 years of growing youth hockey in America.

“I have very good associates that allow me to delegate,” Feldman said. “We have a strong treasurer and vice president. That’s a lifesaver.

“A lot of people start the day thinking if you want something done right you have to do it yourself. But if you really want to be successful, association-wide, you have to trust other people and empower them. The hardest part is recognizing when other people are better at something than you are.”

Considering how the girls’ program has grown, at face value Feldman appears to have mastered this aspect of his positions.

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

Recent News

Most Popular Articles

Three newcomers bring unique backgrounds and are all-in for a common goal

2022-23 ATO | WEEK 4

By USA Hockey Officiating Program 09/23/2022, 6:45am MDT

QUESTION: In a game with two referees, during a stoppage both teams accidentally send six skaters out during the line change (both teams have their goalkeeper in). The ref dropping the puck does not notice both teams have too many players on the ice and drops the puck. The attacking team scores after the face-off and the goal stands. Is this the correct call?

ANSWER: A team cannot score a legal goal while having too many players on the ice. However, since it is the responsibility of the officials to ensure the proper number of players are on the ice prior to dropping the puck, the team with the extra players should not be penalized.


QUESTIONI’m allowed to have 18 skaters dress for a game, but can I have alternates that are allowed to practice and not play in games? My team is the lowest available level in our program for our age. I have two players that are on the bubble and would like them to continue to develop as an alternate on top of my 18 skaters and 1 goalie. Is this allowed?

ANSWER: The Ask the Official forum is dedicated to the Playing Rules of USA Hockey, which do not govern practices. Please submit your question to your local hockey association, USAH Affiliate Body, or District Registrar for an answer to this question. Contact information can be found in the USA Hockey Annual Guide.


QUESTION: After the whistle a player takes 4 - 6 strides towards an opponent, launching himself at him in a violent fashion but not making contact due to the opponent moving out of the way. What penalty would/should be called if any? Charging is not an option based on the wording of contact having to be made. Would Attempt to Injure be a valid in the situation?

ANSWERContact must be made to assess a player a penalty for Charging. However, if the game officials determine that the player was deliberately attempting to injure the opponent, then a Match penalty could be assessed.


QUESTIONWhen is the puck considered tied up and the whistle should be blown stopping play. Does it have to be covered up or can he have it frozen between his arm and chest.

ANSWER: Play should be stopped when the officials determine that the goalkeeper has possession and control of the puck.


QUESTIONShould players ineligible for the game be crossed off the scoresheet at the conclusion of the game?

ANSWER: The game-sheet team rosters should list all players who were present, dressed and eligible to participate in the game. All missing, sick or injured players should be removed the team roster after the game concludes.


The USA Hockey Playing Rules are now available as a mobile device app! Check your Apple, Android, or Windows app store to download this playing rule app free of charge.

Check out the USA Hockey mobile-friendly online rulebook application! Enter into your mobile device’s web browser to gain instant access to the USA Hockey Playing Rules (must have mobile or internet service).

The USA Hockey Playing Rules Casebook and other educational material can be found under the OFFICIALS tab at

2022-23 ATO | WEEK 3

By USA Hockey Officiating Program 09/16/2022, 6:45am MDT

QUESTIONI was a timekeeper at my daughter’s game where the referee disagreed with a "running clock" rule. I was not rude to the ref, however he ejected me from the timekeeper position. The question I have is whether an on-ice official can eject an off-ice official?

ANSWER: The on-ice officials can remove an off-ice official if they feel they are not acting professionally or within the Game Officials’ Code of Conduct of USA Hockey.


QUESTION: During a Two-Official System game, the Front Official mistakenly waves off an icing believing because the goalie left the crease then icing is nullified. The Back Official doesn't blow his whistle as he's unsure why an otherwise obvious icing is waved off. The puck never leaves the end-zone, and a goal is scored. Referees convene and decide the icing rule was misinterpreted. The goal is disallowed. Is this correct call?

ANSWER: If the goal is the result of a missed icing call (officials are 100% certain), and the puck never left the end-zone the goal was scored in, and there are no play stoppages between the missed icing and the goal, then the goal should be disallowed.


QUESTIONIf a player's jersey number is listed incorrectly on the game-sheet, is there a penalty or even a forfeit of the game if the mistake is found after the game? The player is legally rostered, and listed in the playing line-up. The roster label had wrong jersey number listed.

ANSWER: This type of roster clerical issue must be brought to the local governing body of the game (league, hockey association, tournament committee, etc.) to decide upon. Generally, there are no penalties for small clerical errors as long as the player is listed on the game roster.


QUESTION: During a game, a player used the inside of her skate blade to keep the puck under her control (by kicking the puck) and move it ahead. I wondered if that was a legal move? No one else commented on it.

ANSWERRule 627.c in the USA Hockey Playing Rules states:

Kicking the puck shall be permitted provided the puck is not kicked by an attacking player and entered the goal either directly or after deflecting off any player including the goalkeeper.

However, the puck may not be played by the so called "kick shot," which combines the use of the leg and foot driving the shaft and blade of the stick and producing a very dangerous shot.”


QUESTIONAn incident occurred recently in a game where a player in the offensive zone had their feet pushed forward by a defender positioned behind them, as a result the offensive player lost his balance and while falling clipped the defender in the face with his stick drawing blood. What should the call be?

ANSWERPlayers are always accountable for controlling their stick at all times. Therefore, if a player recklessly endangers an opponent as a result of illegal stick contact (even if accidental) then they must be assessed a major plus game misconduct. However, any illegal action of an opponent that causes the illegal stick contact by the player who recklessly endangers the opponent should be penalized too.


The USA Hockey Playing Rules are now available as a mobile device app! Check your Apple, Android, or Windows app store to download this playing rule app free of charge.

Check out the USA Hockey mobile-friendly online rulebook application! Enter into your mobile device’s web browser to gain instant access to the USA Hockey Playing Rules (must have mobile or internet service).

The USA Hockey Playing Rules Casebook and other educational material can be found under the OFFICIALS tab at