College extramural hockey might be considered a “rec league” by some, but for the Humber women’s extramural hockey team it’s all business come game time.
Extramural hockey offers participants a competitive atmosphere that can be hard to find, especially for young female players, said Hawks’ head coach Emily Curcuruto.
“(The team) takes it very seriously,” she said. “A lot of them don’t get the opportunity to play in another league.
“For some of the girls it’s kind of like their Stanley Cup,” Curcuruto said.
Humber competed at this year’s Challenge Cup, which was held on March 27 and 28 at Georgian College in Orillia. The Hawks entered the six-team tournament as the sixth seed, but shocked the field bu earning a 1-1 record in the round robin before defeating Georgian College and Conestoga College in the playoffs.
In the final, the Hawks put forth a valiant effort but fell just short, losing 1-0 in overtime to St. Lawrence College, who was the third seed.
“We definitely surprised everyone,” said Humber alternate captain Melissa Cormack. “We were complete underdogs and not expected to win, but we finally played as a team.
“We had solid goaltending as well. Kenzie (Bertrand) played really well in net,” she said. “We had an all-around solid team and being able to depend on certain players when we needed them in each game was key for our team.”
Outside of the competitive atmosphere of the Challenge Cup, extramural hockey gives players a way to play without the time commitment required for rep and varsity hockey.
“For me, it let me go to school and continue playing hockey and I’m able to balance both without the pressure of not being able to keep up with school work,” Cormack said.
“You get enough hockey, but you’re still able to focus on school.”
For the more experienced competitive hockey players, extramural hockey offers a venue to continue their hockey careers while having fun.
“The league definitely has a variety of skill,” said Hawks’ captain Justine Treadwell. “But it still makes for a pretty competitive league and it’s a lot of fun, and it’s cool to represent your school.”
Humber’s coaches also promote a fun atmosphere for their players, said Curcuruto.
“It definitely starts with having fun,” she said. “At the Challenge Cup we had the girls in a circle playing keep-ups with a soccer ball and some three-on-three soccer just to get their mind off of the game and their previous loss.
“(Fun) is definitely something that needs to happen in order for the girls to excel in their play,” said Curcuruto.
Although the league might not be as competitive as many of the participants are used to, performing well in the Challenge Cup meant a lot to the Hawks.
“No matter what you’re always going to be joking around and having fun with the team, but when you’re in the game it’s serious,” said Cormack.
“We like to have fun on the bus and in the dressing room, but definitely when it comes to game time, we want to get focused and get warmed up,” said Treadwell. “We know we have to work hard and it’s going to take all of us as a team to win.”