The Lady Vipers U-14 (14 and under) and U-19 (19 and under) girls ice hockey teams both earned national championship berths as they battled it out at the USA Hockey Southeast District Championships against teams from Virginia and Maryland, respectively.
The district championships were played near Niagara Falls from April 2 through April 6, where both teams earned the respect of northern competitors. This year, both teams were formidable competitors against their opponents, with the U-19 girls attaining the best record ever for any Lady Vipers team at the championships.
“These young athletes are ladies off the ice and warriors on the ice. We are so proud of their accomplishments. Returning home from districts, not one, but two of our teams earned a spot at the national championships,” said Melissa Nicholas, a Lake Worth resident, team building coach and Lady Vipers mom. “As you can imagine, fielding a girls ice hockey team in a sub-tropical climate where most girls play soccer, basketball and volleyball can be a challenge.”
Lady Vipers Director Pauline Ade took on the challenge and never looked back. While helping her daughter make her way to a Division 1 athletic scholarship playing ice hockey as a freshman at the University of Vermont, Ade has guided the fledgling organization to four national championship berths.
The players also work hard raising money for Pennies in Action. Soon they will be launching the “Saves for the Cure” and “Take Your Shot at Cancer” campaigns. Players represent communities across Florida, such as Lake Worth, Royal Palm Beach, Odessa, Tampa, Titusville, Melbourne, Coral Springs, Jacksonville, Longwood, Clearwater, Fort Myers, Rockledge, Oviedo, St. Augustine, Windermere, Coconut Creek, Lithia, Orlando, Parrish, Orange Park, Cape Coral, Davenport and even Evans, Ga.
The Lady Vipers have embraced the sport with the tenacity similar to an NHL player taking a shot at the net.
“We are proud of being able to bring this opportunity for these young girls to play ice hockey where many are surprised to hear there are ice rinks at all,” Ade said.
Parents of ice hockey players appreciate watching games in a cool climate when outdoor fields can reach heat indexes of over 100 degrees. For those interested in getting involved, USA Hockey recommends starting girls as early as age 5.
Visit a local ice rink for International “Girls Play Hockey Day” in October and USA Hockey’s “Try Hockey for Free Across America” in November. Public skate times are available weekly. Visit www.ladyvipershockey.com for updates on the teams.
ABOVE: The Lady Vipers U-19 team celebrates its victory.