FALMOUTH — When Family Ice Center on Hat Trick Drive opened in 1999, the sports world was different: girls’ ice hockey didn’t exist as a varsity sport.
And because of that, there was not a dedicated locker room built for female hockey players, as there was for the boys’ teams from Falmouth and Greely high schools.
But a local organization is aiming to change that by raising enough funds to build dedicated locker rooms.
Dubbed the Girls Locker Room Initiative, the project’s goal is to raise $300,000 for dedicated locker room space for the 2017-2018 season for both Falmouth and Greely teams. The 500-square-foot room would be added to the back of the rink.
Charlie Clement, who co-chairs the fundraising project, said about $40,000 has been raised so far. Volunteers are organizing an informational event this fall to boost fundraising, with plans to break ground next summer.
Clement said it is important for the girls’ teams to have their own space because of what hockey players experience in locker rooms.
“With hockey, something about the locker room is gold,” Clement said. “It ends up really fostering incredible friendships and incredible camaraderie.”
Clement said ideally, supporters want to make sure girls get the same experience as their male counterparts. He said as someone who has had both sons and a daughter go through the hockey program, the difference became glaring.
Family Ice General Manager Josh Brainerd said creating the dedicated space wouldn’t be difficult or affect day-to-day operations at the rink.
Clement said the “bare bones” estimate for construction was around $230,000. Those interested in donating can make checks payable to Falmouth Hockey Friends (Girls’ Locker Room Project,) and mail them to either Falmouth Hockey Friends, PO Box 6151, Falmouth, ME 04105, or Greely Hockey Boosters, PO Box 346, Cumberland, ME 04021.
“They really sort of want to be trailblazers and begin to do what a lot of the boys’ teams have done over the years,” Brainerd said.
Another benefit to having established locker rooms is it gives the athletes a place to leave their gear. The girls now have to carry their equipment from home to school, and from school to the rink.
Ally Hurdman, an FHS senior and captain of her team, said it can be very difficult to have to transport all that gear. She also said it can be hard for students without cars to find rides to practices and games, since other players might not have room in their cars for several people with all their equipment.
“It would make our lives easier,” Hurdman said.
Rob Carrier, who coaches the FHS girls hockey team, also said it would make transportation to games and practices easier for the players.
“Not every person has an SUV that can fit four players and their equipment,” he said. “It would ease the burden for these kids.”
Carrier and Hurdman also spoke of the relationships built in the locker room. Carrier said in the seven years he’s been associated with Falmouth hockey, he’s seen how the locker room became a centralized bonding area for the boys’ team.
“(The boys’ teams) show up early and hang out together. It’s something I really would like the girls to have because girls’ hockey is still a fledgling sport, and any time you can tout the togetherness of a team it speaks well for the sport,” he said. “It gives a strong message to girls looking for a sport to play at the youth level.
Hurdman said the locker room is an environment where teammates get to know each other better.
“We’re lucky to have a rink in our town; it really would add to the convenience factor and allow for us to have a place to call our own,” she said. “I know the boys liked to hang out hours before games. If we had a place to call our own we could do the same thing and really spend time there and bond with our teammates and really get ready for games and practices.”
“First and foremost it’s about having a home on the rink,” she said. “… This would help give them that home that promotes that team bonding.”
Falmouth High School senior and girls’ hockey captain Ally Hurdman carries her equipment into school. The Falmouth and Greely high school girls’ teams are raising money to build a dedicated locker room at Family Ice Center in Falmouth.