by Eileen Flynn ’20
Playing sports is sometimes taken for granted when growing up. We may resent the early morning hockey game, or the two-hour drive to an away basketball game. Yet, of course, it was always worth it in the end, even if the results of the game were not the best. Indeed, the actual game was only half of it: the memories, friendships, and lessons learned while playing lasted far beyond the final whistle.
For many, college marks the end of competitive sports. Flashback to the fall of 2016, however, there were about eight underclassmen at Providence College who were not ready to hang up their skates just yet. Instead, they recognized an opportunity to start the Providence College Women’s Club Ice Hockey Team. Jasmine Gaudreau ’20 and now graduated Avalon O’Shaughnessy ’19, along with fellow classmates, started doing research and setting up meetings with associate director of club sports, Chris Schmidtt.
The college offers over 20 club sports to their student body, ranging from competitive teams like basketball and lacrosse to open roster teams like figure skating and scuba diving. Schmidtt is always open to new additions; however, he makes it clear that the students are in charge of running each club. Since there has been a successful men’s club ice hockey team at PC for many years, Gaudreau and O’Shaughnessy were determined to reach their goal of having a women’s club ice hockey team added to the list.
“I knew that if a club team did get started, it would attract incoming or prospective freshmen. Similar to the women now on the team, they would also feel like they belong in a new environment. PC had the resources to have a women’s club ice hockey, the program just needed someone to start it,” said Gaudreau. Luckily, she was ready to be that person.
The process is not meant to be easy; an important aspect Schmidtt looks for when approving a team is the level of commitment shown by the players. For three years, around 15 girls would wake up to their 6 a.m. alarm clocks, pick up their bag in the basement of their dorm, and travel across the snowy campus to Schnieder Arena for their 7 a.m. practice.
For two years there was not a coach budgeted for the group, but that did not stop them coming together and practicing. Taking attendance each morning, Schmidtt was impressed that after three years of an unofficial team, there were upwards of 20 girls still showing up in hopes to someday be a legitimate team.
Fast forward to fall 2020, Gaudreau’s senior year, PC held their first women’s club hockey tryouts. More than 25 girls in all different class years arrived with excitement, realizing they did not have to say goodbye to the sport they love just yet. The girls are coached by Frank Caparco and Tony DiLorenzo, two local retired high-school coaches looking to continue their career with the sport.
This past season, the Friars played Big East rivals like Boston University, University of New Hampshire, Boston College, and Northeastern University. This past weekend, the girls traveled to face the no. 1 ranked University of Vermont on Super Bowl Sunday nonetheless. Although testing the Catamount’s goalie early and often, UVM scored the first goal and held on to the momentum. With two freshman goalies to play, the Friars were able to play both, giving them the experience they need for the upcoming years.
Perhaps the most promising part of this season is the amount of underclassmen on the team, with nine freshmen and eight sophomores. With two games left, the record for the team’s first year stands at 6-8. Learning from the five seniors, the underclassmen do not take this opportunity for granted. Thanks to Gaudreau and the other seniors, there will be a women’s club hockey team for years to come.