South Girl’s Hockey team starts the season with a new coach

Becca Koch '22, Staff writer

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A new coach and several new players are setting up the South girls Hockey team for a successful season. Longtime hockey player Haliee Craig was hired to replace the head coach of last year’s team. Craig, a recent college graduate, has been around the ice her entire life.

“I played college hockey in New Hampshire at Franklin Pierce University,” Craig said.“(Now) I am the director of the Bulldogs hockey club as well as the coach of the high school team.”

A young team can pose many challenges with having some players who are four year veterans, with others are in their first season. The learning curve can be difficult at first, according to Craig, especially with getting everyone adjusted to a new coaching style.

“It’s a young team so you don’t have as much experience,” Craig said. “The freshmen are looking for guidance and a lot of the time it is easier because they will soak everything in like a sponge.”

In addition to playing on the ice, the team hopes to host fundraisers benefiting Clark Park, an outdoor hockey rink in Detroit according to team captain Natalie Clexton ’20.

“We are all getting super involved in it,” Clexton said. “All the proceeds will go towards the park.”

This year, one of the biggest goals of the team is being built off the ice. A second year player, Effie Hodges ’22, has been focusing on helping to create a happy and healthy team dynamic especially with so many new players to the team.

“Of course it would be nice to win,” Hodges said. “But that is not as high on the list as having fun and having an overall good season.”

Changes to the team are already being implemented according to Clexton, to the joy of returning players who felt some aspects of hockey were being skipped over last year.

“We didn’t have a lot of defense drills last year and the players were frustrated about it, but we spoke to our new coach and she was all about it,” Clexton said.

Having both a close age gap to players and being a relatively new coach could be trouble for some coaches, but Craig is up for the challenge.

“Being a new coach you are going to have a couple people try to test you, see how far they can push you,” Craig said. “I don’t think I will have to deal with that because I’ve got a pretty good group of girls.”

The changes to the team have resulted in many players finding more happiness in their sport. Having someone who has gone through the same process that they are going through makes it easier to both coach kids, and also to be coach, according to Clexton.

“Hailee, our new coach, is everything I have ever wanted in a coach,” Clexton said. “She played girls hockey in the college and high school level, so she knows how things go on a team. She knows the whole dynamic of everything which is really nice.”

Win or lose, Craig said she has high hopes for the team. She said she wants there to be a deeper purpose in the player besides just going onto the ice and skating.

“I want (the players) to know what they are doing and why they are doing it,” Craig said. “Instead of just playing hockey, I want there to be a reason each time they go out on the ice.”

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