10 Years of Hershey Girls and Counting
10 Year Retrospect
At the end of the 1997/1998 Hershey Jr. Bear hockey season, Dre Darch played her last game with a bantam boy’s team. Her small size, and the fact that Dre would have to play on a midget boy’s team the following season, motivated Lexie Darch to move her daughter out of boy’s hockey and into girl’s hockey. There was only one problem….there wasn’t a team for girls. This minor set back did not stop Lexie. By the following year’s evaluations, Lexie had formed the first Hershey Jr. Bears girl’s team. The 1997-1998 season started with 9 skaters, coaches Dwight Kuhn and Ted Power, with Lexie Darch as the teams manager. As the weeks went by, more skaters were recruited until they had a full roster for the first 19U Hershey Jr. Bears Girls travel team playing in the Delaware Valley Hockey League (DVHL).
As the start of season two rolled around in 1999 and evaluations began, recruiting continued. Lexie found Kassi Augustine at the rink for in-house boy's evaluations. The rest is history. For at age 9, Kassi joined the girls 19U team and the Augustines joined the organization. The Augustines have done more for girl's hockey than any other parent involved in the organization to date. Their recruiting efforts paid off. This team ended their season in the Delaware Valley Hockey League with over 20 girls on the roster.
With a roster of over 20 girls, season three brought the organization to the point of needing two teams. But like always, there was a little extra recruiting needed to fill out the two benches. No girl was safe. The organization chased down pony tails seen on the ice during the spring league games, friends recruited friends, and one girl was approached (and successfully recruited) because she was standing in the Twin Ponds lobby holding her brother's jerseys. She was holding jerseys, she played field hockey…..that was close enough! Adding coach Rich Meadows and team manager Robyn Meadows, the organization finally had enough girls for two teams -- 19U ‘A’ team and a 19U ‘B’ team -- both playing in the DVHL (Delaware Valley Hockey League).
2001/2002 began the fourth season. The two previous 19U teams were broken down into a 19U team and a younger 15U team, both still playing in the DVHL. The HJB 15U team won the Delaware Valley Hockey League their inaugural year.
Seasons Five & Six
During seasons five and six, Hershey kept their 19U team in the DVHL as a Tier ll team but moved their 15U into the AAHA (Atlantic Amateur Hockey Association) where they played as a Tier 1 team. Season five also brought us our first developmental team with Lexie Darch doubling as coach for the 19U and our newly formed developmental team. Season six (2003/2004) brings us our second year of a developmental team with Ted Power still hanging in there with his coaching patience and Alicia Bluis as the team’s manager. Ted's love of the sport and his ability as a coach was a blessing to the organization.
In 2004/2005, all women’s and girl’s teams pulled out of the DVHL and the AAHA to join the newly formed Mid-Atlantic Women’s Hockey Association (MAWHA). MAWHA was formed specifically for girl’s teams to address the ever changing world of girl’s hockey. For the 2004/2005 season, the Hershey Jr. Bears registered a 19U and a 14U team in the MAWHA league under their White (or Tier ll) division.
Season eight not only brought us a 19U and a 14U team competing in the white division in MAWHA but also brought us a third team, our developmental team -- and the Foulkes, who decided to have all three daughters play hockey. It only made sense that Steve and Cindy should coach and manage the developmental team. Season eight also brought two first place outcomes. Both the 19U and 14U teams took first place in their respective MAWHA league.
In 2006/07, the organization started out with a minor setback. The organization was forced to fold our 14U team because we couldn’t find a goalie. But the season ended on a good note as our combined 19U/14U team once again took first place in the MAWHA league. Season nine also brought us a load of coaches. We added John Dalziel, Bill Davies, Dave Slimak, Rob Engle….and still hanging in there with us…..Ted Power. Also, the organization had a mighty strong 12U in-house developmental team playing against boy’s teams in the Hershey in-house program.
As we end our 2007/2008 season with a 19U travel team and a 12U in-house developmental team we can look back and cherish 10 great years of girl’s hockey in Hershey. But let’s also look forward. It takes all of us to make this organization successful. We need to continue to be vigilant in our recruiting efforts. And we need to be creative and open minded so we can see girl’s hockey thrive for another ten years in Hershey.
The Hershey Girls continued into the 2008-2009 season with three teams. The 19U team continued to play in MAWHA as a tier II team. In addition, the 12U team entered MAWHA as a full travel tier II team as well. Both teams were young, but held their own in league play. Hershey also had a developmental team that was full of young future talent.
In the 2009-2010 season, the 19U team was stronger and became a force to reckon with in the league. During the year, the team was in second place throughout the year behind the Quakers. However, during the fifth overtime period of the championship game, the girls won to take the MAWHA Tier II League Championship. The girls fell short to the Quakers during the Atlantic District Championship game.
In addition to a 19U team, Hershey also had a 12U developmental team. This team did not play in the league, but scheduled games against other girls 12U teams in and out of our district for a season of full travel. The team also participated in two tournaments over the season, and finished as runners up in the Pony Tail Tournament in Baltimore in March of 2010.
During the 2010-2011season, the 19U team remained mostly unchanged with the exception of a few new players. The team struggled early in the season, losing several league games. In the end, the team finished second in MAWHA, once again behind the Quakers. During the league playoffs, the girls fell to the Quakers with less than a minute left in the game to finish second. The Atlantic District Championship game was a different story, as the girls defeated the Quakers with a well-placed shot from the point, earning Hershey the Atla tic District title. The win qualified the team for a trip to Anaheim CA to compete in the USA Hockey National Tournament. This is the first time in Hershey Jr Bears Girls history that a team has gone to Nationals.
Hershey also had a young 14U team that competed in MAWHA. This team was composed mostly of girls from the previous years' 12U team, and struggled some with league games. However, the team came together over the course of the season, and ended much stronger and experienced. The 14U won most of their nonleague games over the season. They participated in two tournaments as well, and held their own in the 12U B division.
In addition to the 19U and 14U teams, Hershey fielded a 12U developmental team, and was able to generate a lot of interest from new players through Learn-to-Plays and aggressive advertising. This team grew to a roster of 19 girls ages 8-13 throughout the season. They played in house at Hershey in the squirt division, and scheduled 6 travel games against other girls' teams from around the district. They also participated in the Pony Tail tournament at the end of the season, ending the season with a 2-1 win.