Jen Fisher, the director of the Teton Valley Cutthroats girls’ hockey program, has two daughters who are fervent hockey fans. The younger one, Avery, was very disappointed this season that she wasn’t old enough to attend a recent big girls’ hockey jamboree in Hailey.
Fisher quickly made the call: why not host a home-grown version of the event for girls aged 4-8 (categorized as Mites and Mini-Mites) right here in Teton Valley?
“There aren’t any events like this in Idaho or Wyoming, at least none that I’ve heard of in the seven years I’ve had girls in hockey,” Fisher said.
Registration for the one-day event on Saturday, March 14, is already filling up with players from around the state as well as local girls. In the morning girls will participate in a clinic taught by former NCAA Division I player and current U19 Lady Suns head coach Jo Golub, and in the afternoon they’ll scrimmage in motley Mite and Mini teams.
While Fisher sees many benefits in co-ed youth hockey, she thinks girls bring added confidence to the ice when they’re facing other girls.
“We work hard to create a culture of playing with equals, but there are obviously differences between girls and boys. When girls play each other, the uncertainty about physicality goes away. They’re 100 percent there mentally and it’s very cool to watch,” she said.
The local program, which Fisher started in 2017, grew to 21 girls this season, and most of the players are under 10 years old. Fisher is excited to see those girls grow together and eventually field robust U12 and U14 teams.
“Everyone is in such huge support of girls’ hockey right now,” Fisher said. “[Former Teton Valley Foundation executive director] LB has done amazing programming at the rink that really complements youth hockey.”
LB, also known as Lauren Bennett, announced in February that she was stepping down from her position as executive director of the Teton Valley Foundation. The nonprofit is in the process of finding her replacement.
“I can’t say enough good things about her,” Fisher added. “It’s sad to see her go but it’ll be neat to see how TVF and the Kotler Ice Arena continue to evolve as the next director builds on a great foundation. I’m really excited to see hockey continued to grow in the valley.”