By Waverly Brannigan
The Lady Whalers Hockey Team has been knocking on the door of their biggest goal this season—to win a game. Their record so far is two ties and one loss, already a great improvement from last season. Junior Captain Evelyn Fey agrees, saying, “our team’s biggest goal is to win a game this season. We have been close so many times, but aren’t quite there yet.” With the momentum that the team is gaining by tieing more games, it is likely that they will be able to overcome the barrier preventing them from winning. Senior Captain Ruby Dupont also emphasizes that their team is still a very new program, with last season being their first year on the ice as an official school team.
Following last season, the girls’ hockey team has also struggled with the size of their bench this year. They lost notable seniors from last year such as Haleigh Johnson, who had always been a very strong and pivotal player. Fey explains, “So far this season our biggest challenge has been the lack of players we have. We have a pretty small team, so we can all be pretty exhausted by the second period.” Dupont agrees, but also says the team has gained a lot of new, young players this season, and that one of their other goals is simply to get the new players better at skating and increasing their understanding of the game. If this can be accomplished, then the girls’ hockey team will have a strong foundation for the future, as seniors and core players and seniors such as Ruby Dupont, Shea Harnishfeger, and Grace Hood graduate.
However, Fey made it clear that the new players have been doing an excellent job, “over the season so far I have seen so much improvement throughout everyone, especially the new girls. There are four or five girls who have just started hockey this year, and they have been absolutely killing it.” Having this type of confidence in younger teammates is promising for the team as a whole because it presents an environment where any new players can truly feel accepted and like they are part of the team.
Senior Captain Shea Harnishfeger also believes that the team has improved a lot over this season so far,”we are finally clicking as a team and understanding each other’s needs and capabilities…you would think that as a second-year team, we would still be ending games with scores like last year, like 10-0 losses, which shows how much we have improved.” It seems that although the team may be struggling a bit with the overall bench size, they still have a great crop of upcoming players who will be able to provide so much to the team as they grow in skill and passion.
Of course, similar to every other sports team, the girls’ hockey team has its own struggles due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19 is undoubtedly the biggest obstacle for this season, impacting things such as team-bonding, mask-wearing, and even rule changes to games, but the team seems to have turned those obstacles around, working to make the best of their season. Fey says, “we have handled the challenges of Covid really well. Although it can be tough to play with a mask, no one ever complains and we just do it.” She also states that it’s sad for the team to be unable to use the locker rooms and have team dinners, but that she is simply happy for the opportunity to play. Both Dupont and Harnishfeger feel the same way, making it clear that even in the face of so many challenges and differences that Covid-19 has brought about, they are doing everything they can to make the best of the season they have.
Similar to everyone else during this time, Harishfeger wishes that Covid would just go away. “At any moment, the season could end due to Covid,” she explains. “That breaks my heart every time I think about it. I hope we can keep on playing and finish our season strong.”
It is very clear that amidst so many challenges that stem from Covid-19 to winning their first game and a lack of players, the girls’ hockey team has been able to maintain strong morale. Keeping with reaching goals and a good attitude. Dupont says, “this season we really hope to change our losing streak and win our first game in Nantucket Girls’ hockey history.” With the team focusing on keeping their attitude and energy high, this is likely a goal they will soon overcome. They have never let their lack of wins discourage them, and always continue to try their best in every scenario.
Harnishfeger emphasizes this idea, making it clear that, “we are 100% capable of winning a game this year. Once we get our first win under our belts, we can win many more games to come.” The contagious spirit of whaler pride is strongly present amidst the Lady Whalers hockey team, which will surely lead them to the path of victory and the ability to tackle their challenges together, as one determined team willing to do whatever it takes.