North-South girls hockey ‘crushes’ barriers

Sports Uncategorized
by Andrew Feinberg and Elijah Kosto, Sports Reporters
photo contributed by Ellie Fahey

They aren’t any lions or tigers (or bears), but rather the Crush, a different mascot representative of a hybrid team. Unlike most other high school sports, the girls ice hockey team combines North and South players into one team and includes coaching staff from both schools. 

With a season spanning from their first game on Dec.10 until mid-February, the girls battle teams from all around eastern Massachusetts.

Both schools have struggled in the past to fill the program with only their respective students. In 2013, South formed a team with Brookline and was able to have a JV team for the first time. In 2018, the dual program with North was formed. 

While the rivalry between the two high schools is infamous, team members say they shed their school ties at the rink door. After only one year on the team, South sophomore Mady Daley said that she is already close with her teammates from North. 

 “I probably wouldn’t cross paths with that many of the North girls, [but] we’re spending every day together, and so we really formed a great community and connection,” she said. “I talk to them even when we’re off-season.” 

Captain Hadley Conroy, a senior at South, said that she enjoys being on a team with students who reach beyond the South community.

“It’s really nice to be with people in Newton that you don’t see every day. And it doesn’t really feel like we’re rivals. It’s just one team. We put aside the rivalry,” she said. 

Most athletes learned to play the sport in programs like Newton Youth Hockey Girls and continued their careers on club and town teams. For South freshman Ava Barrett, this is a very different team from those she has played on before.

 “The team is more closely knit than my town team,” Barrett said. “We all go to the same kind of school, so I can relate with them about teachers.” 

According to South sophomore Cecilia Sheehan, the teammates’ bond extends past the rink.

 “We just do simple things normal friends would do outside of school. There’s no difference.” she said.

As with any sports team, a strong connection with the coach is essential.  Scott Heslin from South and Kevin Flynn from North fill this role, helping the team improve and bringing the girls closer. 

North sophomore Ellie Fahey said one of her favorite memories with her coach came before a game after school.

“We were all really hungry because school had just ended,” she said. “So our coach stopped at a grocery store and bought us sandwich materials, and we passed them up and down the [aisle] of the bus to make sandwiches before the game.”

Flynn said that even before the start of the season, the players have already put a lot of effort into the team. 

“Nobody knows that they practice a couple of days really early in the morning. They put a lot of time and effort into it and it’s always been a joy coaching,” he said. 

The team practices one to two times a week at 6:45 a.m. Despite the early wake-up, Daley said that she enjoys spending time with her teammates any time of day, especially in the morning. 

“I’m really grateful to be on this team — even when I’m tired in the morning and it’s hard to wake up for practice, I just feel like I’m a part of the community and I’m happy to be there,” she said. “Even though I’m exhausted, being on a bus and playing music in the locker room is something that makes me really happy, and it’s a great experience.”

Conroy said that in the end, the hard work and practices are worth it for the special experience of the game.

 “I just love hockey, and so does everyone else,” Conroy said. “That’s why we do it.”