WESTFIELD, NJ — She could have played with the boys. Many of the girls on junior Ally Hornstein’s club ice hockey team did just that at their high schools. But after her parents expressed some concern, Hornstein saw an opportunity to think bigger and do what she really wanted to: Start a girl’s ice hockey team at Westfield High School.
After countless fundraisers, getting girls from many different hockey backgrounds to join, figuring out all the logistics and getting help from many of the girls’ parents (including her dad, who started the ice hockey team at his school), the team was finally realized. Hornstein, a co-captain, has been an integral part of the team and on Saturday scored four goals in a hard-fought 6-5 loss to Oak Knoll.
Hornstein is this week’s Ron Bansky and Associates Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week.
“My biggest motivation for carrying this all out was to give incoming girl high school students the opportunity I never had as a freshman or sophomore — to be able to play on a girls’ hockey team and represent their high school,” Hornstein said. “Seeing how happy this has made young girls, and the times in which a parent will walk up to me and ask me when their daughter should start skating so that they can be on the high school team, is a rewarding experience.”
Ice hockey is the most expensive high school sport because of how costly ice time is, so funding a the team was no easy task, according to Westfield High School Athletic Director Sandra Mamary.
“I love to add new sports,” Mamary said. “I think it’s good for the health and wellness of high school sports, so I was definitely excited when she brought that to my attention. I also knew that money and finances would be a big part of that. For her and her parents to get a parent group together to formulate all that certainly helped advance it from a thought into a reality, so I commend her for taking that task on because it was a big task. It’s not a matter of walking in and saying, ‘Hey, we want a new sport.’ There’s a lot that’s involved.”
For such a young team, leadership like Hornstein’s has been crucial.
“Her experience is essential to our group,” head coach Matt Gualtieri said. “She has really become a leader for this team. She also started playing at an older age, so she relates well with a lot of our girls that are new to hockey and starting later. She, along with our other experienced girls, realizes that we need everyone to be successful, so they understand the importance of helping these girls develop in a positive environment will help us reach our goals quicker.”
Hornstein has found success at many different positions on the ice.
“Usually I play left wing, but on the high school team I mostly play defense, so that has been quite a transition for me,” Hornstein said. “One game I played center for our high school team and it benefited the team greatly. I've never played defense before in my whole hockey career and on a couple of my past teams I've been looked at as a high scorer for my shot and just cleaning up the rebounds.”
Going forward, Gualtieri is excited to see her continue to grow and display her talents.
“I expect nothing but her best effort, which she always brings,” he said. “She's also not afraid to take constructive criticism from the coaching staff and is always looking to improve her game. I'm selfishly happy she's only a junior because she will be even better next season.”
Hornstein embraces the challenge of working with such a young team.
“As a captain of a first year team the only thing I am concerned about is that everyone is having fun, trying their best and being grateful for this opportunity,” she said. “I'm expecting that the team will pull out a win this season. I'm anticipating that some of our newer skaters are going to get their first goals quite soon. The team has been improving greatly since our first game so I'm excited for what the remainder of the season will look like.”
Eric Storms is a student at Westfield High School participating in a journalism program with TAPinto Westfield.
The Allstate Westfield Athlete of the Week is sponsored by Ron Bansky & Associates Allstate Agency. Now located 502 East Broad St., the agency has been protecting local families and business owners for over 15 years. Call them at 908-301-0711 for a new auto, home or life insurance quote this week and if you mention the Allstate WHS Athlete of the Week they will make a $25 contribution to the Westfield Boosters Association! To learn more, visit ronbansky.com.