Club Starts Small

Only five months since its conception, the women’s club ice hockey team has become an officially accepted and registered club at the University of Vermont but it is still relatively unknown. “As a first year team, we’re not allowed funding unless we petition it or ask for supplemental funding, which we did,” president Zanna Worzella said. “The Universityaccepted our request and rewarded us with money for the rest of the semester, as long as we promised to raise about one third of the budget I proposed.” The women have done additional fundraising including an impromptu bake sale, at which they realized that people were not aware that the club actually existed.”People thought we were a field hockey team,” freshman Bernice Denehan said. “It’s like they didn’t understand that girls could have an ice hockey club.” The girls have put in a lot of time and effort into the formation of the club, head coach Aziz Fatnassi said. They went through the Student Government Association, the composition of a formal constitution and budget proposals, all to play hockey in a laid-back and positive environment. Since the women are friends off the ice, the club team has put on fundraisers both on- and off campus in hopes that people will donate money to help support the club, which is a good cause, Fatnassi said. At this point the team has prospective competitions against other schools’ club teams, but is not focused on strict competition, Worzella said. “Psychologically, we’re definitely ready to compete,” Fatnassi said. “The club is new and the girls are willing to put in that much more effort and commit all they have to this because they are here just to play.” Hoping to begin scrimmages and games against other schools’ club teams or high school teams next semester, the women of the ice hockey club are upbeat and excited to be out on the ice, living their dream of a club team. “The pure dedication of the girls to the sport will lead to personal development,” Worzella said. “Plus, we have so many talented girls who could have played D-I hockey, but whether or not they had the time or desire to commit to a varsity sport, we welcome them into the club.” The hardest part of putting together the club was the interest level, Worzella said. There were many girls who only started to show interest once the club became official, but now that it is, there are around 40 girls who are members of the club and if interest is there, more people will continue to come.With practices only once a week, the team hopes to increase their budget to practice much more frequently and even possibly at Gutterson Fieldhouse, rather than the local rink they are currently practicing at on Sunday nights. The team does not hold tryouts and is open to anyone who wants to skate with them. Experience and skill have nothing to do with joining the team, “as long as they’re willing to put effort into keeping this club going and developing it as a whole, they’re in,” Worzella said.The University of Vermont’s women’s club ice hockey team has created a fun atmosphere that keeps girls coming back to practices and hopefully, Denehan said, to the games that will happen next semester.