A testament to the hockey culture and eagerness of youth athletes on the Island, the Vineyarders junior varsity girls hockey team is the only JV girls hockey team on the Cape and Islands. In fact, they are one of only 10 public school teams in the entire state.
Their unique situation inevitably makes finding opponents who are willing to make the trek to the Island rather difficult, so when the Vineyarders hosted Plymouth’s junior varsity team on Sunday for their regular-season finale, it was also their first home game all year.
Finally having the chance to play in front of family, friends, and their peers, it was a mixed bag of emotions for the Vineyarders. Four-year senior Lorhana Souza said, “It was very nerve-wracking, but motivational at the same time, because I believe that [the crowd] pushed me to play better.” Four-year senior Sofia Alexander added, “There were a lot more people there than I expected.” In part due to the discrepancy in program size (Plymouth North and South combine to form their team), MVRHS ended up losing 8-0, finishing their season with a 1-4 record. But the game goes beyond winning or losing for the Vineyarders.
According to Coach Simmons, most join the team with little to no skating experience, but just want to play hockey and have fun. “The team culture was just so open to learning, and everyone was there for a good time, [which] made playing the game and doing practice so much more exciting and fun,” four-year senior Mackenzie Shaw stated.
“Since I enjoyed going to public skate and watching hockey games, I thought it would be cool to try it out. The best part about hockey these past four years is how close all of us have gotten,” Souza added.
It goes without saying that ice hockey is an extremely difficult sport to pick up, so Coach Simmons and Assistant Coach Johanna Douglas have endless praise for their players’ willingness to make mistakes in front of both strangers and their peers. “They put themselves at both physical and mental risk,” stated Coach Simmons. “These girls truly love hockey.”
Reflecting on the season as a whole, Coach Simmons is amazed at how much the team has improved. “They were a great group of kids to coach … I’m gonna miss these seniors.” The Vineyarders honored Alexander, Shaw, Souza, Ella Keene (four-year member), Violette Wetterhahn, Jocelyn Valiunas, and Andrea Morse on Sunday.