LITTLETON AND THUNDERBIRDS
The Littleton Hawks and Colorado Thunderbirds, led by directors Brian TenEyck and Angelo Ricci, have announced that they will launch a girls program starting in the 2017-2018 season with 14AA, 14AAA, and 16AAA teams.
Karen Rickard has agreed to coach the Thunderbirds 16AAA team. She will also work closely with the 14AA and 14AAA teams and coaches to ensure that those players are developing the same skills, systems, and strategies as the 16AAA team.
“The timing is right for us to add a girls program to serve the needs of this growing group of high level players,” Ricci said. “When you couple the foundation we have laid on the boys side with Rickard’s experience playing NCAA DI hockey at Wisconsin and coaching and mentoring competitive young women, it’s going to be a home run.”
When asked what it means to start a girls program at Littleton and Thunderbirds, Coach Karen Rickard said, “I’m excited to get this going. Ricci and TenEyck have been program directors for a combined 30+ years. These guys know how to run a program with professionalism and integrity and have built two very successful brands when it comes to Colorado hockey. Littleton has a solid foundation of young girls in its program. “
Rickard added, “I look forward to the opportunity to help each individual player become the best player and person they can be. I’m a strong believer in pushing these girls to be better than they were the day before, developing a strong character, and helping them navigate the college recruitment process. Every parent, player, family, and coach will be critical to the program’s success and lay the foundation for the future.”
Both TenEyck and Ricci expressed excitement about putting their energy behind the girls and believe they have the right developmental structure for success.
“We’ve been doing this for a number of years on the boys side at both programs,” Ricci said. “And we have been lucky to have had a handful of exceptional girls skate with our teams over the years.”
TenEyck agreed, stating, “It’s going to be a lot of work, but we’re committed to doing this, and doing it right by the players. Having Rickard on board is a huge asset, and we look forward to working with her as we grow this program and bring in more girls at the younger ages.”
The Hawks and Thunderbirds have a strong tradition of developing hockey players and moving them on to the next level of NAHL, USHL, WHL, NCAA, Minor Pro, AHL, and the NHL. These notable achievements have existed predominantly for boys associations.
However, several notable female Hawks and Thunderbirds products have gone on to secure NCAA roster spots. Evan Minnick, Shannon Webster, Jordan Slavin, and Brooke Ahbe developed their talents at the Littleton Hawks or Colorado Thunderbirds before transitioning to girls hockey and moving on to compete at the NCAA D1 level at Colgate University, Boston College, North Dakota, and Dartmouth, respectively.
The Hawks and The Thunderbirds boast the two largest boys programs in the state at the Tier II/Rec and Tier I level respectively and both are nationally recognized brands. Littleton alone has over 700 members, which supports a powerhouse Tier I program at The Thunderbirds. The programs intend to recruit new girls to the game at 8U, 10U, and 12U age levels at Littleton to support an ELITE girls program at The Thunderbirds in the same manner.
Events such as USA Hockey’s Try Hockey for Free and IIHF World Girls Hockey Weekend will be targeted as strategic events to introduce new girls to the game at the younger age levels. These efforts, coupled with the leadership of female coaches with NCAA playing experience, will set the foundation and tone for a new premier elite girls program in the state.
Program details will be forthcoming, but please contact Karen Rickard at firstname.lastname@example.org or 214-435-4978 for questions about the girls program at LHA and Colorado Thunderbirds.