The Brookline girls hockey jerseys will have a new look this season: the addition of orange to Brookline’s traditional blue and red.
The Brookline High School girls hockey team is combining with that of Newton South High School this winter to create a joint team. Brookline High School Athletic Director Pete Rittenberg first reached out to Newton South High School to figure out a way to address the shortage of players in both schools.
“The past two or three years for each team, we’ve been really low in terms of numbers,” Newton South hockey coach Meg Lloyd said. “We had 8th grade kids who were facing off against 12th grade-sized bodies, and it just becomes a little bit dangerous and a little bit risky. We sort of had been walking that fine line between safety and fun.”
Brookline coach Abbie Dooger will continue to be the team’s assistant coach this year, and Lloyd will be the head coach. Last year’s head coach for Brookline, Sarah Musculus, will not be coaching this season.
Practices and games will be held at the same locations as last year’s practices and games for the Brookline girls. The team will practice at Larz Anderson park, Dexter School and the Reilly Memorial Rink. Home games will take place at Walter Brown Arena.
Players from both teams agreed that although this change could cause some concern, it should be a positive step forward for both programs.
“At first it’s going to be really hard because we’re bringing together two different teams from two different towns; it’s weird because we don’t really know any of the girls,” Brookline High School senior and captain Kristina Wolinski said. “In that sense it will be hard, but I think that once we start learning who the girls are and how they play, it will get better.”
Newton South junior Sonja Klumpp also noted that she is concerned about playing with a whole new set of teammates for the first time. She said she predicts a social split between the two schools.
“I think that at the beginning, it will still probably be divided by school,” Klumpp said. “The South people won’t talk as much with the Brookline people and vise versa.”
Both Wolinski and junior Gabrielle Rizika said that they have noticed an uneasiness in the air during the first two meetings as the two schools remained “segregated.” Lloyd said that she is aware of the potential social tensions within the team, and that the coaching staff is going to be very focused on addressing this issue.
“Some of the beginning weeks will be a lot of team-building activities as well as skating and fitness and skills,” Lloyd said. “We’ll start with basic level name games, sort of goofy-type stuff like that. Then we will work toward more trust-building and focus on making sure that we understand what it is to be a leader and to follow a leader.”
Apart from the social aspect of the team, both players from Brookline High School expressed optimism for the new system. With the new surplus of students, the coaches will now be able to separate the girls by ability into a varsity and junior varsity squad. This was not possible before since neither school had enough players for a varsity team.
“We’ll be able to come together and become an actual team versus a group of girls who just need the credit,” Rizika said. “We’ll actually be able to be competitive with the other teams.”
According to Lloyd, positive feelings about the new system outweigh the potential conflicts and concerns.
“I’m really excited about it, and it’s going to be a great season,” Lloyd said. “There is valid concern and worry, but I think overall, my bigger feeling is that I’m really excited about the potential to have some really good teamwork and skillbuilding.”
JK Suh and Sarah Cardwell-Smith can be contacted at [email protected]