On July 12, 1971, Forrest (Butch) Amundsen, representing the Cokato Jaycees, approached the City of Cokato about the need for a youth hockey program. In addition, Amundsen proposed plans for enlarging the skating rink and building hockey boards. In December of 1971, the newly enlarged rink and growing community support allowed the Cokato Hockey Association to establish a Squirts (under 10 years) and Bantams program (age 12-14). Eventually, Peewees, Mites, Midgets, and Juveniles teams were added as well. Although these teams were primarily comprised of boys, a couple of girls briefly entered the ranks in the early 1980s—Sara Keskey and Sonja Lund. Unfortunately, a girls’ team would not form until approximately a decade later.
In Minnesota, girl's hockey also took longer to develop. As a result, the first Minnesota State Girl's Hockey Tournament did not occur until 1994. Women's hockey also did not become an olympic sport until 1998. For the Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato girls it wasn’t until the 1998-1999 season that the Dragon’s had a girls’ hockey team. The first team was coached by Markus Millazo and Steve Benda, and was comprised of S. Niemela, Talia Wischmann, Robyn Wozniak, M. Carlson, Naomi Benda, S. Fischer, J. Tidwell, S. Gunnerson, Valerie Moe, Heather Amundsen, Elizabeth McGraw, D. Oberg, Stephanie Nikula, M. Eidsvaag, K. Johnson, S. Wright, K. Nielson, Jessica Hilker, A. Belinsky, M. Lalonde, and A. Kerr.
Sara Jones (Fischer) of Litchfield was on the first L/D-C team. She recalled what she experienced the first years of the program, "While participating we unknowingly had to grow a "thick-skin" as we were harassed by male players. We also faced comments at school that are less than desirable. Having done something that was typically a male sport pushed us as players to be strong on and off the ice..." L/D-C's first girls' hockey team created an important building block for the next generation of players. In 2014, the L/D-C girls' hockey team made it to state for the first time. One can only imagine what future years may bring for girls' hockey.
9/15/2022 01:18:31 am
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