Charlottesville is an unlikely ice hockey hotspot. Local ponds don’t freeze over for months at a time, and the goals that children dream of scoring usually happen on soccer or lacrosse fields.
That does not deter the members of the University of Virginia’s women’s club hockey team. In its 15th season of competitive hockey, the squad will be gunning for its fourth Delaware Valley Collegiate Hockey Conference championship this weekend at the Delaware State Fairgrounds.
Of the 14 players listed on the roster, six are from Virginia. A few had no prior competitive hockey experience before coming to Charlottesville. (“Previous ice hockey experience is NOT necessary, but the ability to skate is ESSENTIAL,” the team’s website says.)
The team is not a varsity sport, and players receive no athletic scholarships; in fact, they pay dues to supplement donations and some support from student activity fees. Beside the expense of renting ice time for practice and games at the Main Street Arena on the Downtown Mall, the cool Cavaliers must fund travel to away games against the conference’s Division 1 South foes: the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Maryland, Slippery Rock State University and Liberty University.
(More about club sports – including men’s ice hockey – can be found here.)
Hannah Latham is a second-year student from Pawley’s Island, S.C., whose previous hockey experience came on the junior varsity team at Deerfield (Mass.) Academy. She plays goalie at U.Va.
“One thing that’s really special about U.Va. is that everyone who is out here, really, really, really wants to be out here for the game,” she said.