AAA Blue Jackets hope to take girls hockey to the next level in Columbus

Growing up in Columbiaville, Mich., a village of round 800 other people northeast of Flint, Emily Curlett went via with regards to each revel in a tender lady in the game of hockey may have. 

She performed with boys till she used to be round 12 years outdated, then switched to full-time girls hockey. Living in a state with out Division I ladies’s hockey, she stated she did not see a varsity school recreation till she used to be 16 and attended a competition at the Rochester Institute of Technology in upstate New York.  

It’s no accident that used to be additionally the second the considered taking part in hockey at a top level become actual for Curlett. 

“That was the first time it became a dream for me,” she stated. “I think inspiration comes before action, and then that’s where motivation comes from, (thinking) ‘I need to do what I need to do to get there.’ That’s how it becomes a reality.” 

Reaching the best level at any game calls for a mix of things, from a private force to prevail to a practical trail to get there inside of a neighborhood that cares.

It all in the end led to good fortune for Curlett, who spent 4 seasons at Robert Morris University after which transferred to Ohio State, the place she used to be a member of the staff that gained the program’s first-ever NCAA championship in March. 

Now, Curlett is one in all the coaches of a program that she hopes can use her experience to assist girls apply their goals to prevail. The a hit Ohio AAA Blue Jackets junior program that has produced such NHL avid gamers as Jack Roslovic and Sean Kuraly has expanded once more into the girls ranks, beginning a U-14 girls squad (2008 and ’09 start years) to supply the alternative to play Tier I hockey to Central Ohio younger ladies. 

Tryouts have been finished in spring, with the staff beginning observe a couple of weeks in the past and staff individuals receiving their preliminary recreation jerseys Tuesday night time. The first two video games will take position Saturday at OhioWell being Chiller Dublin in opposition to the Cleveland Barons, with faceoff instances set for 11:20 a.m. and three:30 p.m. 

“I always joke I think ‘excitement’ and ‘excited’ are the most overused words that I have been saying since April,” stated new girls hockey director and staff head trainer Kerry Bowman. “But I think it just sums up the feeling that everybody is really looking forward to us getting started.  

“A large number of the girls have grown up with out this program being to be had to them. They have not had this to glance ahead to. For them to be ready to placed on the Ohio Blue Jackets jersey and rep the space and play Tier I right here in Columbus, I feel it is a nice alternative for them, they usually could not be extra excited to play on Saturday.” 

With the Blue Jackets bringing NHL hockey to Columbus two decades ago and the Ohio State women’s program being established at the varsity level around the same time, there have always been girls inspired to play the sport in Central Ohio. 

But now, thanks to a variety of factors, the game has matured to the point where the AAA program can provide a viable path to high-level hockey for local girls. Not only is the current crop of talent up to the challenge, the participation levels in coming years all the way down to the CBJ Learn to Play and Get Out And Learn! (GOAL!) programs shows there’s a strong base of girls ready to feed the pipeline for years to come.

Add in the recent success of the Ohio State program that has caught more than a few eyes, and it feels like — after a previous attempt that didn’t get off the ground — the time is right to take Central Ohio girls hockey to the next level. 

“We be expecting to be right here a long time and we think to be the place the boys are at in generating top-level ability and having a spot the place girls from Central Ohio can come and broaden, whether or not their goals are to play Division I school hockey or to play membership hockey,” Bowman said. “They can do this with no need to cross to Pennsylvania or Michigan or cross to the East Coast to a boarding college.” 

The initial roster includes 17 young women from the Buckeye State, most of them from the Central Ohio area, including forwards Isabelle Allman, Leah Goldsand, Abigail Guttman, Luka Lecorchick, Lena Levins, Mia Park, Maja Pircio, Grace Riddle and Abby Warnimont; defensemen Audrey Hicks, Charlotte Keller, Elizabeth Korosec, Mia Rengel, Maddie Rios and Adyson Williams; and goaltenders Madden Clevenger and Claire Hill.

Not all will go on to play Division I hockey like Curlett, but at the very least, they will have the chance to develop their games, push their talent to the fullest, and have fun doing it. Along the way, they’ll be trailblazers for what will continue to be built in Central Ohio. 

“They’re younger sufficient, they have not in reality skilled the first try at this,” Bowman said. “They have grown up seeing their brothers play or their cousins play or their pals play, however they have got by no means in reality had that chance to placed on that jersey. For them, I feel being on that first staff, they’ve taken a large number of delight in it, and they’re very excited to be the first ones to do it and in reality get started this legacy of creating the program.” 

It’s a feeling Curlett can identify with, one reason she chose to stay in Columbus to coach the squad rather than pursue playing opportunities elsewhere. Being part of Ohio State’s first title-winning team, an accomplishment that has garnered plenty of attention in Columbus hockey circles, has provided her the chance to be a real inspiration for younger players. 

That NCAA championship trophy has been at practice more than a few times, which is fitting. It’s a symbol of what can happen when preparation and dedication meet opportunity, and never has there been more opportunity for girls to play high-level hockey in Central Ohio. 

“How many of us can say they have been a part of the first staff of any given program?” Curlett said. “I nonetheless have other people arise to me and say, ‘Hey, I used to be on the first Robert Morris ladies’s hockey staff,’ or, ‘Hey, I used to be on the first Ohio State ladies’s hockey staff.’ That is particular.  

“For the (current team) to be a part of that automatically gives them a sense of ownership and excitement, and that is good because it motivates them to be better every day. For them to be part of the first team to come out of here, I think they’re never going to forget it no matter what happens throughout the season.” 

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