Spring break does mean a road trip for six area athletes.
But not exactly a time to have fun in the sun.
More like time on the ice.
Starting Wednesday (March 28), three and three girls' hockey players will compete in the USA Hockey Tier 2 National Championships in Irving, Texas.
Lake Bluff's Sasha Carney, Willa DeBoom and Nina Wilson join Lake Forest's MaryClaire Newtown, Leslie Rowell and Sheridan Weiss as members of the Falcons Hockey Association Under-14 girls team that qualified for the trip south by winning the Blackhawk Cup state championship recently.
This is the first time the Under-14 team will compete at nationals.
“My biggest pride is the ability to compete as a team,” said Falcons coach John Newtown. “On paper, we have some great talent, but as a Tier 2 club and with girls hockey still developing, we don’t have unlimited numbers of girls to draw from.
“To be successful, the girls have had to help each other get better and find ways to be successful in team play. No matter how good an individual becomes, you can’t win a hockey game by yourself. I am most proud of how the girls have embraced the great game of hockey, learned to play as a team and raised their level of play together.”
The Falcons roster features 15 girls, ages 12-15, from Lake Forest, Lake Bluff, Lincolnshire, Deerfield, Lake Villa, Gurnee and Wilmette.
During regular season play in the Northern Illinois Hockey League plus tournaments, the Falcons finished 29-9-5. The Falcons finished first in the Rolling Thunder Tournament in Fond du Lac, Wis., and competed against higher-level teams at the Can Am Tier 1 Tournament in Milwaukee.
While Newtown is excited about his team’s accomplishments on the ice, his real pride comes from the fact that his players find success in the classroom as well.
“Playing hockey as a student isn’t the end goal, you are trying to use hockey for the greater good,” Newtown said. “We all play for the love of the game and that in itself is a reward, but building women of character through hockey is more important.
“Have fun but challenge yourself to see how well you can do, how far you can go and how you can impact your team - these principles cross over to academics and personal development.”
The team began its season back on Aug. 23, 2011. Since then, the Falcons’ goal has been to compete at nationals.
“In the beginning it was just a goal, a dream really,” said center Carly Thomas, a Lincolnshire resident who is a freshman at . “When our team began winning, the goal became more of a reality."
Now that the players’ dream is a reality, the Falcons are ready to put the finishing touch on an already historic and memorable season.
“Our goal is to win, it has to be,” Newtown said. “Will we feel like we failed if we don’t win? No. You can’t take the Blackhawk Cup championship away. They earned that.”
- information compiled by Marc Zarefsky