Women’s hockey finds home off campus
The women’s hockey team may not have a spot on the official athletics page, but they’re still present and playing games as an unofficial student club at the university. Though they’ve been an official UAF athletics team in past semesters, they currently don’t have enough students to be formally affiliated.
“We’re not allowed to be affiliated with UAF, because we have girls playing who aren’t taking six credits,” said Mackenzie Sylvester, one of the members of the team. “[Six credits are] how much you have to take to be eligible to play with the UAF team, and we didn’t have enough eligible this year, unfortunately.”
This isn’t a new problem for the team, although this is the first time they haven’t been affiliated with the university since the team began in 2009.
“The last few semesters we have been UAF, but every semester it’s just been declining more and more. Less and less girls are able to play, and so we just got to this point now,” said Sylvester. “But my first semester that I played, we were American Collegiate Hockey Association; that’s a club team association, and so we got to play against other women’s teams from other colleges and travel to Minnesota and everything.”
Part of the reason for this decline is that few students can afford the expensive equipment, or they don’t have the necessary training to start playing hockey.
“It’s kind of hard to start hockey for the first time. Like, at that stage, you need to buy the gear; it’s an expensive sport, especially when we travel, so I think that’s part of it. And yeah, you’ve got to know how to skate so that’s definitely an issue we’ve had,” said Abigail Brice, another member of the team. “It’s just finding girls who have skated before, can skate, who have the gear, and who are going to school here with enough credits.”
Despite no longer being university-affiliated, the team is still set to play games here in Fairbanks after finding another association to play under.
“Right now we’re just practicing on Mondays, but we have a couple games in a few weeks,” said Sylvester. “December ninth we have two games, and that will be our first time that we’re gonna be under Hockey Club Fairbanks, which is the women’s comp team that we’re going to be.”