CHATHAM, NJ - Molly Coyne laced up her first pair of skates at an early age and started out as a figure skater. The transition to ice hockey player came soon after.
Ice hockey runs in the Coyne family and her father, Jim, didn't wait long until he suggested his daughter pick up a hockey stick.
"I started skating when I was three and did figure skating for about a year and decided it wasn't for me," she said. "That's when I went to hockey. I remember it like it was yesterday. I've always been able to skate, but I'm not really one who likes to dress up every time, so that's part of it. That's not me."
The Chatham High freshman plays club hockey with the triple-A NJ Rockets and also is the leading scorer for the combined Madison/Chatham girls ice hockey team, which reached its league tournament final on Tuesday. Through 17 games playing for "Chatison," Coyne has piled up totals of 26 goals and 21 assists, producing 2.7 points per game.
Molly Coyne is the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week.
"I'm so happy that I can be on the ice seven days a week with Chatham hockey," the 14-year-old said. "It allows me to get better every day. I wasn't sure there was going to be a Chatham hockey team before I got to the high school. Now I get a chance to reconnect and play for my original coach."
Kevin Hannon, the Chatison head coach, was Coyne's first coach when she began playing Chatham rec hockey with the boys. She also has been associated with Chatham resident Kathryn Kehoe for seven years as a member of the Penguins and then the Rockets.
"Any team is lucky to have Molly Coyne on their side," Kehoe, who coaches Coyne on the NJ Rockets, said. "She is one who always brings the team together and includes everyone and is very selfless. On the ice, she's a different person. She always gives 100 percent and is a fierce competitor.
"She's the kind of player that everyone wants on their team and opponents don't want to play against."
Coyne plays on a Chatison line with Lauren Arias and Maddie Gleason and credits her linemates with her team-leading offensive numbers.
"My linemates get a lot of the dirty work done so I can score," Coyne said. "It's definitely a change from club hockey. It's a lot more fun. I have to say the girls are great and I love being with them three times a week. The coaching is awesome and it's just a change, but it's so much fun. Club is extremely serious and this is a lot more laid back."
There is nothing laid back about Coyne's love for hockey. She's on the ice practically seven days a week, practicing with Chatison at 5:30 in the morning three days a week and then training with the Rockets and getting home at 10:30 at night. And, of course, she plays the games for both teams.
"It's a challenge and I'm always at every practice and every game," Coyne said. "I haven't missed one yet."
So far, she's had three hat tricks and another game of four goals for Chatison.
Coyne also plays girls lacrosse for Chatham as a middie and does cross-training for both sports as a member of Dewlax, a private club team. She plays for Dewlax in the spring and summer.
In her spare time, Coyne helps kids learn skating skills at the Bridgewater arena on Sundays.
"I play hockey for the adrenaline rush," Coyne said. "Being on the ice and wanting to win is my main reason for playing hockey, and being with the people that I love."
The USA women's ice hockey team recently won the gold medal at the Winter Olympics in South Korea and Coyne has high hopes for the future of the Chatham girls program, too.
"I'm hoping that girls ice hockey will get bigger and bigger in Chatham," Coyne said. "It would be great to have just a Chatham team and have more competition if we could have a Madison team, also. We have the players coming up. I know the Jayvee team has been working really hard this season."
Editor's note: The Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week is sponsored by the John Hawk Agency. John and his team have been protecting local families and business owners for over 12 years. Call them at 973-635-9494 for a new auto, home, life and business insurance quote this week and if you mention the Hawk Allstate Chatham Athlete of the Week they will make a $20 contribution to the Chatham Booster Club! To learn more, visit the agency website.