By Stefan Kubus -
While the University of Michigan-Flint currently has a men’s club team, who says that women can’t also play?
Beginning in the upcoming 2012-13 season, the Wolverines will sport an independent women’s club team for the first time ever.
Nikki Baragwanath and Alisha Mulanix, founder and vice president of the team, respectively, are the brains and push behind the team’s initiation.
“My motivation stems from my love of the sport, mixed with my passion for women’s rights and equality,” Baragwanath said. “My family has always been, in some way, involved in hockey.
“My cousin, Danielle Ward, just graduated from the University of Maine, where she played on their women’s team. Next year, she will be moving to Munich (Germany) to play for a women’s team there. She has been a lifelong inspiration to me. The passion I see in her, for the sport of hockey, I hope to invoke in other women throughout the Flint area. Danielle actually came out and coached a practice a few weeks back. This was an amazing experience for all of us.”
Upon entering graduate school at U-M Flint last Fall, Baragwanath noticed that there was a men’s hockey team, but not a women’s. She asked the director of her graduate program about it, and he had no idea why there was no women’s program. So, she took initiative, and reached out to the Club Sports Director at the university, Dillon Thorne, and it was all downhill from there.
“Currently, we are looking to grow our team, as well as start a house league at the Flint Iceland Arena,” Baragwanath said. “Alisha Mulanix, the Vice President of the team, and myself would really like to see a few teams form in the Flint area. Eventually, we would like to see the team join the ACHA but that is a good way down the road. Right now, we are scrimmaging Lapeer’s women’s league and in the Fall, Michigan State has invited us to play a couple games. We are still exploring our options and looking for women interested in skating.”
In fact, Baragwanath encourages any and all interested women to come out and join the team for practice.
“We encourage any and all interested skaters to join us for practice,” Baragwanath said. “At this time, because we are not in a league nor are we playing official games, we can accommodate anyone who is committed to joining us weekly. Eventually, we would like to break up into teams and start playing games. Of course, at that time, the U-M Flint students will be grouped onto one team.”
Baragwanath added that since she and Mulanix have begun promoting the team, around 35-40 women have reached out with interest in playing. Out of those numbers, however, there are only seven committed players that skate every week.
“Our goal is to see the sport grow in Flint. This will be a good thing for the university, as well as the city of Flint… Recruiting is our biggest and most important goal in the next couple months.”
This article originally appeared in the July 16 issue of MiHockeyMag.