BOSTON (CBS) – The girls on the Assabet Valley All-Stars are young – 10, 11 and 12, but they’re about to take, what could be, the trip of a lifetime. They’re getting ready to travel to China to play hockey against boys.
Girls hockey in China is a developing sport and the All-Stars will serve as de facto ambassadors. Last summer, some of the Chinese athletes visited the All-Stars at their rink in Concord, Massachusetts. Now, it’s the All-Stars’ turn to make the long, exciting trip.
“To be the first girls to play in a boys tournament is unique. It’s a pretty big deal to them,” says proud All-Stars coach and former player, Kelly Souza. She and Coach Alison Kennedy know how exciting it is to participate on an international stage. They traveled to Australia with the team as teenagers and now, they enjoy the additional thrill of coaching their daughters.
Kennedy hopes her daughter can walk away from the trip with the confidence of knowing that she was part of something special. “…Of helping another country grow their girls hockey and continue to grow her passion, too.”
Carl Gray, founder of the Assabet Valley Girls Hockey League could not be more proud of the young players—because of both their skill and their character. He has long stressed that hockey can open doors for the athletes and experiencing another country and another culture, he says, will surely be a milestone in their young lives. “They’re all going to be Tier 1 college players,” he says. “They’re all going to contribute to society later on in different ways.”
The key, he says, is to work hard and do the right thing. He knew, back in 1972, that championing girls hockey was the right thing. “I have said to these players, the Great Ones are humble.”
The two-week trip will also include some sightseeing. Parents who are going say they’re looking forward to seeing the Great Wall of China and sampling Chinese cuisine. Steven Scalese always agreed that hockey could open doors for his daughter. “But this is a huge door! Carl threw out that we might be putting a China trip together. And all of a sudden, we’re booked and ready to fly,” he says.
Scalese and the other parents are most excited to watch their daughters compete and those boys in China? Greg Fournier, whose daughter plays for the All-Stars, says the boys in China had better be ready. “I hope the takeaway is a team of girls from the United States went to play in a boys tournament and tore it up!”