Casco Bay is a Leader in Growing Girls’ Hockey in Maine
09/12/2014, 4:15pm EDT
By Mike Scandura – Special to USAHockey.com
The Casco Bay Hockey Association’s girls program is a proud feeder for high school girls’ and co-op teams in the state of Maine.
“We draw from a number of towns,” CBHA Director of Girls’ Hockey Scott Matusovich said. “In Maine, there are 16 girls’ high school hockey teams. Casco Bay feeds at least six of them. There also are at least six or seven co-op teams that we feed.
“There are plenty of girls who will pick up soccer when they’re freshmen. But that’s not the case with hockey. We’re trying to grow the game at the younger ages so we won’t have co-op teams.”
As part of this mission, Casco Bay has established a reciprocal agreement with the high school girls players and coaches.
“The high school coaches take an active role, and some of their players serve as student coaches,” Matusovich said. “They help us at practices. They have a great interest in helping us because it helps them. It’s a pretty good relationship.”
According to Matusovich, the CBHA is the largest organization of its kind in Maine. It expects to have at least 170 girls registered for its 12 teams in 2014-15.
“One of the reasons is that we offer more levels,” he said. “We have travel teams, house teams and a travel-B option for girls who don’t want to make the travel commitment but want to play a few more games.”
Even though Maine has a strong hockey tradition, the Casco Bay administrators and coaches remain vigilant in their efforts to bring more players to the game and more girls into their girls-specific programs.
“It’s a challenge sometimes to get girls away from boys’ hockey at the upper ages,” admitted Matusovich. “One thing Casco does is offer different levels and also think outside the box, because some of our girls’ teams play against boys’ teams.
“In my opinion, Casco does things the right way. We’re trying to grow the program.”
CBHA Team Administrator/Director Rachel Pargeter has her own take on why girls are interested in joining the association.
“The focus is on girls playing together and building self-esteem regardless of height,” she said. “It also builds confidence. There isn’t treating anybody differently, because they’re all girls. Having them play together pulls up the level of competitiveness. It allows the girls to collaborate and build a better team.
“Scott has worked very hard to develop the program. The program has vastly expanded and is accommodating more girls than it used to. Statewide, the girls programs are getting stronger as the competition gets better.”
Pargeter also credits Matusovich with his ability to instill a positive attitude in the girls and to instill expectations that are high, but not so high that they’re unrealistic.
Then, according to Pargeter, there’s the matter of coaches.
“One of our selling points is the quality of the coaching in the girls’ division,” she said. “It’s known around the state to be very good.
“The girls are very smart and play with their heads so they’re able to play a mentally tough game. And, again, because Scott has such a positive attitude, it carries down to the coaches.”
Because the CBYA has grown so much, ice time has become scarcer and the organization has begun a funding drive to build a new facility — the Casco Bay Arena in Falmouth. The new arena, which will cost $2 million to construct and is expected to open in December, will be a combination of “old-time” rustic rinks and state-of-the-art technology.
The arena will use solar energy for heating, which is expected to make it “energy-neutral” within the first six years. To that end, Energy Maine gave CBYA a $50,000 grant.
In addition, the association already has obtained $120,000 through donations. Pargeter is confident the association can raise the remaining funds needed.
“There’s a tremendous amount of interest in hockey in this state,” she said.
Currently, the CBYA utilizes rinks at North Yarmouth Academy, the Portland Ice Arena and the Falmouth Family Ice Center. But by having a rink of their own, players and their families won’t have to skate at the crack of dawn or stay up late in order to attend practices and games.
“Because we’re a large organization, we’re competing for ice,” Pargeter said. “But we have enough money to go forward. Any more we raise is going to lower our debt service.”
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