NORTHWEST HERALD SPORTS
LOCAL NEWS AND VIDEO FOR MCHENRY COUNTY, ILLINOIS
Created: Monday, January 24, 2011 11:52 p.m. CST Joe Stevenson covers high school sports for the Northwest Herald. He can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Prep Zone: Skill, Not Practice, Makes Perfect for Girls Club
Having practices to work on elements of a game is nice, but having highly-skilled players who simply know how to play can be better. That’s the case with the Upper Fox Valley girls’ high school hockey team in its first season. The team plays its home games at the Crystal Ice House, but with so many players on other travel teams, practice is just not feasible. Upper Fox Valley, which sports a black and gray fox on its red sweaters, is in third place in the Metro Girls hockey league, a 13-team conference. Upper Fox Valley has players from five local high schools – Cary-Grove, Crystal Lake Central, Jacobs, McHenry and Prairie Ridge – and is looking forward to the postseason Scholastic Cup playoffs.
“This is something we’ve been interested in for a long time,” Upper Fox Valley coach Jeff Bruns said. “Once a girl hits 16, they have no place to play unless they’re playing high school or Triple-A. There is really no club hockey at those levels for girls.” So Bruns and others put together the Upper Fox Valley team. The team has so many players who are double-rostered (those playing Triple-A or club in addition to high school) that it just plays games together.
“It’s a little hard because we don’t know how the other girls play, but we’re getting more used to it as the season goes,” said defenseman Christa Vuglar, a Crystal Lake Central freshman who plays Triple-A with the Chicago Mission. “It’s going really well. We didn’t know what to expect with the other competition in the league.”
Upper Fox Valley has 28 points, trailing only Loyola (32) and New Trier (29) in the Metro Girls league. Alex Kazmer leads the team with 46 points, followed by Ashley Baugher (27) and Vuglar (19). The skill level of players, most of whom have played extensive travel hockey, helps Upper Fox Valley get by without practicing together. “It’s fun. It’s a little less serious than my other team and it’s fun to play with other girls I know,” said Kazmer, a Central junior who plays Triple-A with the Chicago Young Americans. “We try to play on lines with people from our other teams. A lot of the other [Metro Girls] teams don’t have as much skill as we do.”
Bruns has daughters Allison and Rebecca, who both attend Prairie Ridge, on the team and hopes this is the start of something that will grow. There are 22 girls on the roster this season.“I’ve been coaching girls hockey since my girls were 7,” Bruns said. “There are a lot of girls who play hockey, and we plan to have a varsity and a junior varsity team next year.”