Garden City, NY–On Wednesday night, the New York Islanders Girls Elite Hockey Program came together at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in celebration of 50 years of Title IX.
For those that do not know, Title IX prohibits sex-based discrimination in schools that are government funded.
The event consisted of a panel of successful women in hockey, including LIU Women’s Hockey head coach Kelly Nash, New York Islanders and UBS Arenas Senior VP of Human Resources Lea del Rosario, Board-Certified Sports Medicine Physiatrist at Northwell Health Dr. Amy West, with NHL Network host Jamie Hersch as the moderator.
When Alexis Moed established the New York Islanders Girls Elite Hockey Program in 2016, she had about 25 girls in the program. Fast forward to 2022, and there are now around 100 girls involved.
“I don’t think I would have necessarily believed that it would have grown this quickly,” Moed told NYI Hockey Now. “When I started it, I definitely felt like it could be something special, but I never had any expectations of where it would go. But if I did, I would say it probably exceeded them.”
The Islanders hosted a similar event last year focusing on women’s empowerment. With this year being the 50th anniversary of Title IX, it just felt right for Moed to make this the spotlight focus of the evening for these young girls.
“I hope they come away with this with an appreciation for where their game used to be versus where it is now, but also an understanding that it was those that played the game that progressed it,” Moed said. “It was those that were playing on the boy’s teams and maybe having a little bit of a rough time with it, but they stuck with it and continued to push the program and the sport that led to the opportunities that they have now, so they have a role in what happens over the next 50 years.”
Moed, a Long Island native, is not only the program’s president but also the general manager of the Connecticut Whale of the Premiere Hockey Federation, formerly known as the National Women’s Hockey League.
The Islanders Girls Elite Hockey Program has left a mark on the Long Island community. Just ask 14-year-old Megan McCarthy, who has big aspirations in the world of hockey and wants to follow in the footsteps of her mentor.
“I want to play for Boston College and then hopefully go pro and play with the Whale,” McCarthy said.
From a professional women’s hockey perspective, the Whale general manager has been happy with the progress made by the PHF thus far.
“I think the PHF has a lot of momentum behind it, and I think it has a strong future,” Moed said. “So I would like to see that continue, to make the progress that it’s made over the last few years. I think that’s evident in the fact that we added a new team to the league this year with Montreal, and every year, the level, the skill of the athletes get better, and just the organization and the strength of the league improves.”
“So I’m hoping with everything that’s happening at the grassroots level, that that’s just going to filter up, and you’re going to see the pro game develop.”
NYI Hockey Now also had the chance to talk to 12-year-old Adrianna Morabito, who is extremely thankful for the opportunity the New York Islanders Girls Elite Hockey Program has given her, especially for the bonds she has been able to make with other members.
“When you’re playing girl’s hockey, it’s more like everybody understands you,” Morabito said. “You all come from the same start. When you’re playing boy’s hockey…they go easier on you because they think you can’t handle it [since] you’re a girl. So if you’re on a boy’s team, they’ll blame you if you mess up one thing because you didn’t grow up the same way with them.”
“So they get a little upset, but like here, they all understand you because you were all together when you started.”
LIU Women’s hockey head coach Kelly Nash, who is not a Long Island native, spoke about her responsibility to the community, especially these girls.
“I haven’t spent much time on Long Island, and so now I think with me being in this community and coaching at Long Island University, I’d like myself, the coaches, and the team to take any opportunities we can to get our name out there and then also just to raise awareness of the game and help grow the game in the community,” Nash said.
While it might sound cliche, NHL Network Host Jamie Hersch had a simple message for the program members on Wednesday: “Follow your dreams and be thankful for today.”
“I think events like these can really be an eye opener for them to be able to see, ‘Oh, I could do that’ because I think as we’re celebrating Title IX, as soon as even 10 years ago, I don’t think playing professionally was ever really an option for girls or women,” Hersh said.
“Cammi Granato currently serves as the Vancouver Canucks assistant general manager and hopefully will become a general manager soon. These are things that were not even imagined, probably five to 10 years ago. So it’s really an exciting time, I think to be a girl thinking about hockey.”
The Girls Elite Program wouldn’t exist without the help of the New York Islanders organization, and Moed couldn’t be more thankful for their support.
“It’s huge,” Moed said. “We appreciate everything that the Islanders have done for us over the years and continue to do for us, and our goal is just to reflect that logo and brand, and I think the girls do a great job of that.”