• Lorna Hamilton

Collegiate Women’s Hockey Team Hitting The Ice

Thanks to the hard work of many people Lakeland College is pleased to announce that their vision of offering a women’s collegiate hockey team is becoming a reality beginning this fall.

The college has hired Morgan Mann as the head coach and the college is preparing to hit the ice. Mann won a CIS national championship with the Acadia Axemen while he attended university and he also played on the Allan Cup-winning senior men’s hockey team in Lloydminster. He has worked in a coaching capcity with the Lloydminster Steelers women’s hockey program, as well as, recently being the head coach of the U18 women’s hockey team for the 2020-2021 season. Mann is also working on his masters in coaching studies while working as a teacher and counsellor in the Lloydminster Public School division.

“I like to use sport as an opportunity to make a young athlete a better person, character and citizen through the life lessons gained there,” said Mann. He also said, “As a school counsellor, I’m well-versed in the challenges today’s youth face. My best work as a counsellor has been connecting to individuals and helping them become more resilient through sport.”

Lakeland’s athletic director, Alan Rogan stated that adding women’s hockey was the next logical league program.

“When a very motivated group from the community came forward about a year ago, we started to look at the opportunity more seriously,” said Rogan.

In the press release it stated that both groups knew that operating and funding a women’s hockey program at the collegiate level would not be something they could do alone with the current challenges facing the community and provinces, but after numerous meetings both parties believed that by collaborating and utilizing each other’s strengths a women’s hockey team could become a reality.

“By working together, we believe we will be able to offer a competive student-athlete experience for 18 to 22 female hockey players at Lakeland College,” says Mann, who led the community delegation before being hired as head coach. Mann also stated that, “Lloydminster has a strong female elite hockey program and that as one of six designated communities to have a U18 AAA program in Alberta, Lakeland is positioned to offer a natural progression for female hockey players in Lloydminster and area hoping to make it to the next level.”

Although they are all committed to work together this does not mean that the team will be accepted into the ACAC Women’s Hockey League.

The release stated that, “as part of the ACAC goverance procedures, Lakeland is required to apply to the conference. The application will be reviewed and hopefully approved for acceptance into the league for the fall of 2022. The team will play this season in the Alberta Junior Female Hockey League and will run as a club program under the Rustlers banner for the first year.”

As a component of the agreement the women’s hockey program will have to raise the majority of its operational funding from the community.

“This is a very unique model to fund a college sports program but in discussions with the community group, we are optimistic that the community will support a women’s hockey program,” says Michael Crowe, Lakeland’s vice president, academic and research. “We are so fortunate to have such great communities in Lloydminster and Vermilion that support initiatives like this.”

Recruitment of student-athletes has already began, and there are 14 people currently signed on to wear the Rustlers colours this coming fall.

If you would like to learn more about the sponsorship opportunities you can contact Morgan Mann at 306-307-4411.

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