Women’s hockey was dealt a headshot on March 18 when Saint Mary’s University (SMU) announced they were icing the Huskies hockey program.
Their explanation for cutting and devastating the roster of 18 returnees and others they had recruited? It was a budgetary decision and they save $60,000. The Athletics Department at the south-end Halifax University was informed they needed to find $120,000 in savings.
Without looking at taking bits from each team, SMU just cut the program. There were other options, weren’t there? Couldn’t the school have cut from each sports team’s budget? According to Athletic Director Steve Sarty this would make the other teams at a competitive disadvantage. It also wouldn’t come close to the amount SMU would save by cutting one sports team.
Maybe my concern stems from the fact I’m a women’s in sports supporter and a huge fan of women’s hockey and that I know several of the Huskies players, and head coach Lisa Jordan.
The Huskies program has allowed many players to go on elsewhere, including the 2007 Esso Women’s Nationals where SMU goalie Jill MacIsaac led Nova Scotia to a bronze medal in the final year that provincial teams participated in the event. Five other Huskies besides MacIsaac were members of the team.
The program has also allowed Kori Cheverie, who was one of those on the N.S. team, to represent Canada as a member of its International University Sports Federation (FISU) Winter Universaide team in Harbin, China in Feb. 2009.
SMU also won the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) women’s hockey conference championship in 2010. So, a team that won an AUS championship gets cut? That doesn’t seem right.
Now this decision leaves the several returning players without a club, and those who were recruited to SMU no doubt by Jordan, without a team.
At least Jordan will be able to let this heart-wrenching news go to the back of her mind in eight days, when she leaves to be an assistant coach with the Canadian women’s national team at the World championships in Switzerland next month.
While many don’t think this has an impact on East Hants, it does in the long-term.
It means there’s one less school that offers female hockey for the talented up and coming female players. It means once less spot for the Dawn Sullivan’s, Stephanie Gates’, Randi Sullivan’s, Grace Garden-Coles, and Sydnee Parker’s to play hockey, while pursuing their career choice, all the while being able to live on campus and just a 30 minute drive from family.
With a well-run midget AAA girls program continually graduating players that dream of going on. There are players on the Pro Cresting Penguins who may now be left with no other option than to go to another school if it has the courses they’re looking for, or move away as a result of this decision. There’s even the possibility they may even have to give up hockey.
We all know economic times are tough for everyone, so it’s understandable for the university to seek ways to stay out of the red. However, instead of placing the full weight of the $120,000 on the backs of the women’s hockey program, other avenues should have been explored.
By not doing so, they’ve just crosschecked the dreams of many women’s hockey players and caused many female students who play hockey and were thinking of attending SMU, to second guess that choice.