Jessica Coyne is the captain of the first ever women’s ice hockey team at Montclair State University, a historical achievement fueled by a strong passion for hockey.
“I’m constantly thinking about hockey, figuring out ways to fundraise,” said Coyne. “Hockey is never not on my mind.”
The women’s ice hockey team will play their first home game October 25th, but it took hours of practice, fundraising and determination to help take this love of hockey to the ice. Conye is a second year senior majoring in family and child studies, elementary and special education. Not many women play ice hockey and it is a mostly male-dominated sport but Coyne and other women on campus collaborated to piece together a 12-team roster along with coach John Mores and assistant Coach Dave Solomon. Before the formation of this team, there was a push for a women’s ice hockey team but that never prevailed.
Even when the team established their roster, some women would drop out due to costs or schedules so Coyne constantly had to keep the morale of the team up. The current team and its captain also had to prove to many doubters that they could perform at their best regardless of their gender or size. Coyne’s play has surprised many, including the guys out on the ice. She blazes along the ice with her 5’4, 120 pound frame and once the puck drops, she is a force to be reckoned with.
“I shock guys all the time when I play hockey especially the one guy who was much larger than me that I checked,” said Coyne. “I hit him pretty hard. We both fell and I got up quick but he was still out on the ice. He later said he was rocked by my hit.”
Coyne’s mother, Yvonna Coyne, has always seen the determination and persistence in everything that Jessica takes on in life. Although her daughter heavily focuses on the hockey team on and off the ice, Yvonna says she balances hockey with work and school as well. Jessica has surprised her mom too, skating against guys much larger than her, but her size does not hold her back. Out on the ice it’s easy to see Coyne transition from a sweet, friendly girl to a competitive, hard skating hockey center.
“It’s amazing to see her go out there and skate against bigger and older guys who have to be at least six feet tall and 200 pounds,” said Yvonna. “She always gives hockey her all and that’s how she is with everything she does.”
Coach Dave Solomon acknowledged Coyne’s leadership skills early on and her mindset not to take no for an answer during the early stages of the team.
“Tenacity is the best word to describe her and she has been relentless trying to get this team up and running,” said Solomon. “Because of her we have a team and everyone should enjoy that they have made history.”
Teammate and goalie, Emily Olshefski, lived in the Midwest before transferring to Montclair State University. She was a bit nervous and apprehensive when Coyne approached her about playing for the team but Coyne’s love and enthusiasm for hockey made the move easy.
“Jessica made me feel welcomed right off the bat and I love being with people who are as passionate about hockey like me,” said Olshefski. “She does a great job with mixing the fun and competitive aspects together.”
Although the women’s ice hockey team has not played their first home game, Coyne has taken it upon herself to continue to schedule future games, meetings and practices twice a week and order uniforms. She says that in the end, it was an overall team effort that made this vision a reality.
“My teammates mean a lot to me and I couldn’t have created this team by myself,” said Coyne. “With them we reached our dream, together.”
The women’s ice hockey team will play their first home game October 25th at Floyd Hall Arena at 6:50 PM.
Montclair State | New Jersey