Record number try out for Lady Coyotes
As their third year draws near, the Arizona Lady Coyotes are working harder than ever to grow the program.
Being able to provide a high level of hockey for any girl who wants to participate on an all-female team is the main goal of the Lady Coyotes, so when an overwhelming amount of girls showed up to tryouts, the boom caused them to rethink their team structures.
“This was the biggest turnout we have had for tryouts ever,” said Mark Lackey, vice president of the Lady Coyotes. “Forty-one girls tried out for the teams.
“In order to not turn anyone away, we created local and tournament teams, and we’re going to double-roster some girls for the tournament team.”
The new structures creates opportunities for the older girls to have a chance to qualify for district and national tournaments, and the younger girls will have a full team to play with.
“It allows us to get creative,” said Lackey. “Everyone has a place to play and we can continue to develop the girls so they can play on tournament teams.
“We’re really looking forward to developing the girls this season.”
16U and 19U head coach Tom Johnson is looking forward to seeing his teams evolving this year.
“We’re trying to be as creative as we can,” Johnson said. “It’s not about the wins and the losses; it’s about the girls gaining experience, enjoying themselves, and wanting to come back next year.”
The new dynamic of teams allows all age groups to develop as much as they can for their age and skill level.
“We have a lot of girls that vary in ages,” Johnson said. “And we had (small) groups at each age; it was difficult trying to find a place to play at their appropriate level. We have roughly 30 girls between the ages of 8 to 18.”
Johnson believes the girls he’s coached in the past are moving in the right direction, and he has high hopes for the newcomers.
16U and 19U assistant coach Matt Shott is trying to give the girls the same opportunity as boys when it comes to competitive hockey.
“We’re just trying to grow girls hockey as much as we can,” Shott said. “From last season, I saw how much they grew and how much better they got.”
Along with the teams overall, goaltending coach Kaley Gibson enjoys working with the younger girls to teach them skills they’ll need for the future.
“I’ve been able to do different skill levels, which makes me work more as a coach,” Gibson said. “The organization trusts me to develop the areas needing improvement and highlighting strengths.”
12U assistant coach Scott Squires is very excited for his girls’ upcoming season.
“We had a great season last year,” said Squires. “The amount of development we saw with the 12U girls last year was just amazing.
“This year with the (tournament) team, there’s a little more competition and it helps us focus on where we left off from last season.”
Local 12U and tournament 14U head coach Natalie Rossi says the Lady Coyotes are committed to coaching the girls properly, so in the future they can grow as a program and, in the end, become a Tier I organization.
“We want to be the best there is, and in order to do that we’re taking the young girls and molding them into the players we want,” Rossi said. “In five years, we want a powerhouse program.
“We’re trying to give them the best coaching they can get, and make them the best hockey players they can be.”
Lady Coyotes president Sarah Dennee believes the success of the program will be defined by having more players and families come out and join the program and, most importantly, enjoy it.
The teams have opportunities for more players. For more information, contact Dennee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
– Katy Wolpoff