Queens Of The Arena Tournament Showcases Growth Of Women’s, Girl’s Hockey In Utah
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – This weekend, hundreds of female hockey players will take the ice at multiple rinks across Utah in what has turned out to be one of the largest hockey tournaments in the COVID era.
Tournament director Shannon Schmidt spoke to KSL Sports about the tournament’s origins.
“The tournament came about by inviting Sun Valley down for a few games, then it spiraled from there all in a month’s time. There are very few 12U girls’ teams around as a result of covid, all the events we tried to enter this season were canceled. We finally played our first tournament in February in Denver.”
12U teams from Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Arizona and California as well as 14U teams from Idaho, Wyoming and Utah will compete for the first-ever Queens of the Arena championship.
Despite the challenges the pandemic brought upon youth sports programs this year, the Utah Lady Grizzlies have managed to grow and add two more teams this season.
“The base of younger girls showing interest in hockey is encouraging. The biggest difficulty is trying to convince the parents that girls hockey is just as good as coed. Parents also overlook the friendships and support systems that girls hockey creates. For these girls, you cannot measure what that can mean,” said Schmidt.
Over the past several years, Utah has seen an increase in women playing in NCAA programs. Ogden’s Kyra Yu and Millcreek’s Izzy Hendry are playing at The University of New England and Katy Plyer Christie just wrapped up four seasons at Trine University. There are several other Utah born playing in or signing NCAA intent letters this summer.
Utah Hockey welcomes Kate Michael (F) from the Utah Lady Grizzlies to @UUtah Women's Hockey Team. https://t.co/MqG8PyOqBc #NewtotheU #UtahHockey #GoUtes #ImagineU #WomensHockey pic.twitter.com/o3zKRsRDZM
— Utah Hockey (@skatinutes) May 21, 2019
This weekend’s tournament is a huge accomplishment. The roller coaster of booking then canceling tournaments has taken a toll on players, parents and coaches, but Shmidt kept looking and trying. Whether they win or lose the games, these hockey players are already proving that they are all indeed Queens of the Arena.
Utah Puck Report is a podcast all about Utah hockey, from interviews with NHL stars to which Grizzlies players are about to take the next step, Utah Puck Report has everything for a Utah hockey fan. Find it wherever you find podcasts or on KSLSports.com. The show is hosted by KSL Sports’ hockey insider, Jay Stevens.