For the 1st time since its founding in 1866, Towson University has a women's ice hockey program.
Welcomed to the Baltimore-area institution in March and voted into the DVCHC only two months later, the TU Tigers are set to begin games this October.
Sounds quick. For founder Beth Kennedy, it's been anything but.
A long-time hockey leader, Kennedy captained the Susquehanna Rapids U16 team, then their U19 team and earned a feature in USA Hockey Magazine for her work supporting Baltimore Saints special needs hockey.
"When I came to Towson as a freshman," she remembers, "I wanted to keep playing hockey but a women's ice hockey team had not been started."
Tiger statue aside Burdick Hall & the Towson Sports Club Organization
Another player might have reluctantly joined a house league, but Beth knew she wanted a team of Tigers. She just wasn't sure how to make that dream a reality.
"At first, I was intimidated about how the sports club system worked and was not sure how I could get a team started... I was new to everything."
So Beth joined the women's rugby team at Towson. Serving as an officer in the club, she learned the steps needed to create the hockey team she wished for. In March it was time to find out if she was the only one wishing.
Kennedy spent a few days covering the campus with recruiting posters, messaging on Facebook & emailing every hockey person she knew. "I thought it was worth a shot. I could at least say, 'I tried.'"
A few days later, Beth had her response.
"I was contacted, not only from girls on campus who wanted to play, but incoming transfer students and freshman who heard the team was starting," she recalls. "I also got amazing support from members of our local hockey community who wanted to help."
Of the young women flocking to the team, Monique Burgers, Olivia Partlow, Kerry Irion and Kendall Kiernan joined Beth as officers, working through the summer to get the team's 1st season underway.
"[We had] one thing in common," says Kennedy: "A love for hockey. With that we were able to create something great."
Burgers, a veteran of the U. Maryland team, was elated at the swirling support: "This could not be possible without the DVCHC league leaders, the Towson Sports Club Organization, Towson Men's Ice Hockey and our local hockey community," she said.
Now official, the Tigers needed a place to play.
Towson's men's program has been a model of club sport talent & success
Competing in the DVCHC "was our ultimate goal from the start, but we were not sure how to accomplish that," says Kennedy. "With the help and advice of the president of the DVCHC, Bryan Benenati, we came to the conclusion that the league would be the right home for Towson."
The DVCHC returned the sentiment with a unanimous vote for membership. "We're proud to welcome the Tigers into our hockey family," says Benenati. "To see the efforts of these young leaders paying off and the support the Towson community has offered them, it's something special."
This Fall, Beth and her Tigers will join what she calls, "a great community of teams." Their college schedule will include match-ups with neighbors (Univ. of Maryland, Villanova, U.S. Naval Academy) as well as longer distance rivals (UVA, Slippery Rock, Liberty, Rutgers). With a few "W's," Towson could make the DVCHC Women's Championship for a shot at the Spikes Cup.
It's possible, but not so fast warms Irion: "This year is going to be a building year as we try to get established, but we're looking forward to the season because all we want to do is play!"
Tiger hockey fans have a lot of that play to look forward to; 7 of the team's 12 games will take place in Maryland and will include Towson's 1st women's game, 1st goal, 1st save, etc.
Historical first steps for which a modest Beth Kennedy has every right to look forward to.
"We now have a place where women at Towson can play ice hockey," she says. "We know the path ahead will hand us new challenges, but we have created a solid foundation to build off of for the coming years. We are extremely excited for the upcoming season and games with the teams of the DVCHC!"
We are too! Are you? Leave a comment below and help welcome the Tigers!
Tag(s): Home Season Ashly Moyer Division 2 American University Jennifer Parcell Division 1 Liberty University Slippery Rock Univ. Univ. of Virginia Rutgers University Towson University U.S. Naval Academy Univ. of Maryland Villanova University Columbia University Indiana U. of Pennsylvania North Jersey Phoenix Rowan University Saint Joseph's University Univ. of Pennsylvania