SMU brainstorms ways to save women’s hockey

Students and faculty at St. Mary’s University are trying to come up with ways to save their women’s hockey team.

by Jessamyn Griffin

(l to r) Chelsea Osbaldeston, Erin Doerrsam, and Kathleen O'Brien remain optimistic about the outcome of SMU women's hockey team (Jessamyn Griffin photo).

Students and faculty at St. Mary’s University are trying to come up with ways to save their women’s hockey team.

“They have talked about doing charity games and events around town,” says Lisa Jordan, head coach of the women’s hockey team. “They are trying to swell up a good game plan for whatever dollars they might be able to contribute to the cause.”

The push follows a decision by the university to reconsider an earlier decision to scrap the team to save money.

Jordan says the potential termination of the women’s Huskies will not be the only area of the university affected by budget cuts.

“I hope people realize that the women’s hockey team being cut is one of many announcements that will be made. Other areas of the university will involve cuts and that’s going to probably involve some people losing their jobs,” says Jordan.

Corporations have been coming forward to offer money to help ensure the team’s presence at SMU. The university says it is not able to identify these sponsors publicly.

Steve Sarty, the athletics director, says it costs around $200,000 a year to keep the team afloat.

“It is the third most expensive sport at the university. To operate buses, pay for meals and hotels for away games are $60,000. Scholarships are another $44,000. Then there is the coaches salary, and ice time for the play-offs. It all adds up pretty quickly,” says Sarty.

He says if the women’s hockey team continues there would need to be a serious evaluation of how the money would be budgeted, coupled with significant fundraising efforts.

Kathleen O’Brien is a rookie on the team. She says she and her teammates would be willing to do whatever is necessary to keep the program going, including paying additional fees and fundraising.

“We are all more than happy to do anything to keep playing hockey. Hockey is our lives. I know myself, I wanted to play since I was 11 years old and when I made the team it was the happiest I’d ever been,” says O’Brien.

O’Brien feels she has to choose between staying at SMU, with no hockey program, or going to another school that offers hockey.

“When we were informed that our team was no longer going to be at SMU we didn’t just pack in the towel. We fought back and we’re still fighting back. I think this shows our dedication and desire to be at this school.”

O’Brien understands the reasoning for the cut, but wants to make sure that all fundraising and sponsorship avenues are explored.

“The thing is each and everyone of us plays for the name on the front of the jersey not for the name on the back. We are so proud to be a part of this school and we are so proud to play for the Huskies.”