Updates from Upperclassmen: Having a successful season on and off the ice

Published 8:00 pm Friday, February 9, 2024

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Updates from Upperclassmen by Zizi Willett

The Albert Lea girls’ hockey team has had plenty of success on the ice the past couple years, with two appearances at the state tournament being the most notable. After having some accomplishments in the past, with even more to come, the team has decided that we want to give back to the community who has supported us this far. Between our own ideas and a little help from our booster club and coaches, we have been able to get out and do some good this season.

Zizi Willett

To accomplish this goal of giving back, we have hosted multiple different drives during our games; we have collected for the food shelf, the Care Closet, and the Salvation Army. To make these drives successful, we have asked community members as well as our opposing teams to bring in any products that relate to the drive to help those in need. For the food shelf, we asked fans to bring any non-perishable items like canned goods and pastas. At the highschool, we have a thing called the Care Closet. The Care Coset houses clothes, hygiene items, and other things that students may be in need of. The team put together bags of items on top of asking game attendees to bring in items. The team also spent roughly two weeks bringing in clothes that we no longer wear in order to donate those to the local Salvation Army. We have been overwhelmed by the amount of generosity and support that we have received through these drives. The community’s support has allowed us to give back and feel even more connected with others than we ever thought imaginable.

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Our biggest goal was to get more people out to our games and show them how highly we think of them; a way we’ve done this is by having a teacher appreciation night. Each member of the team, including managers, asked one teacher of their choosing to attend one of our home games. At this game, teachers were given a hand written note and wore the players jersey. We did this because our teachers are a group of people that kids tend to overlook and take for granted. We wanted our teachers to know how much we need them and genuinely value their efforts in teaching.

Aside from helping those in need, our team has found many ways to stay connected with the youth girls hockey teams. The u-8, u-10, and u-12 teams all join us for fun activities and crafts to keep the hockey community connected and inspired. Our goal is to encourage these kids to stay in sports, especially hockey, throughout their lives in Albert Lea. As a team, both JV and varsity have attended many home games of the younger teams to show support and get them excited to play. On the flip side, the young girls have each gotten to skate out with us at our home games. Three to four of the girls get to skate out, carrying flags, and then stand with us during the anthem. The girls have seen the support they’ve gotten and returned the favor; the signs, posters and overall excitement that these girls have shown makes me believe there is real promise in the future of the Albert Lea hockey program.

We have had a great season going 19-6-1 at the end. We have won our first section game against Red Wing now going into our semi-final game with Simley.

If we win against Simley, we will go into the section finals game against our biggest opponents — the team we had to beat to attend state last year, Dodge County. No matter the outcome, or whether or not we attend state for the third year in a row, the team has felt accomplished through the support we’ve gotten and the good deeds we’ve done for others.

Zizi Willett is a senior at Albert Lea High School.