Female hockey programs
e x p a n d across Florida
By Reba LaRose, Courtesy of Florida Hockey Life
It seems that every year ice hockey becomes an increasingly
popular sport in the Sunshine State. As the popularity
grows, a gradual change in demographic among hockey
communities can be seen: female recreational, competition
and travel leagues are expanding in larger numbers than ever
Today, women are earning spots on college hockey rosters
more frequently, and even taking their game to the next
level. As a part of the general increase in hockey participation,
the total number of registered female players in Florida
adults, according to USA Hockey.
Credit: USA Hockey Season Final Registration Reports 2013-2017
In Tampa, youth hockey leagues have prospered from
exceptional coaching, growing interest among both boys and
girls, as well as the resources that the Tampa Bay Lightning
provides to the community.
youth hockey programs in the area called the Lightning Made
program, according to an NHL press release. The program
includes an all-girls league that is made up of two separate
teams, Team Lighting and Team Bolts, for girls between the
ages of 8 and 14.
Tampa native Jenna Ruedy, 11, started skating when she
Ruedy realized she had a calling to play hockey.
“I do Girl Scouts, and my troop did a clinic with the Tampa
Bay Lightning,” Ruedy said. “When we heard about it, I
tried it and I got on the A team.”
had this light in her eyes, and I thought, ‘This is it,’” says her
mom Katrina Ruedy. When Jenna was asked what hockey
players she looks up to, she replied, “Most of the USA Womens’
In 2017, Wesley Chapel – part of the Tampa metro area –
hosted the USA Womens’ Hockey team during their training
season for the Winter Olympics at the Florida Hospital Center.
The team, which won the gold medal in this year’s games,
was honored by the Lightning on February 28 as they were
welcomed home from PyeongChang, South Korea.
It’s champions like these women, and like the coaches and
players before them, that inspire young girls to interrupt the
tradition of hockey as a male-dominated sport and to prove
that girls can play just as tough as the boys and have just as
much love for the game.
Lightning Made teammates Kerry Smith (L) and Jenna Ruedy (R)
Another Lighting Made teammate, Kerry Smith, also
recognizes the USA Womens’ Hockey team – Anne Schleper
up her stick, lace up her skates and have some competitive
fun on the ice.
Smith has been playing ice hockey in a recreational league
in Wesley Chapel since she was four years old. She currently
plays wing for the two all-girls teams in the Lightning Made
Northeast of Tampa, the Central Florida area has also
experienced an increase in interest among young girls and
women who want to play ice hockey. At the RDV Sportsplex
Ice Den, the Orlando Express all-girls league was created in
2017 by Sondra Pacey with a coaching staff of veteran players
to help young girls in the area enhance their hockey skills as
well as their life skills.
plans on having an 8U girls’ team for the upcoming season.
Since its creation, the Express has grown from simply being
a team that played against the boys at RDV, to a sponsored
18 • JULY/AUGUST 813.682.9364 FLORIDA WOMEN MAGAZINE