Latin Girls Hockey Wins State Championship


McLaine Leik

Latin girls hockey team after winning the State Championship

The Latin girls hockey team upheld their undefeated record and captured the State Championship on March 13. Skating at the Edge Ice Arena, the Romans won 4-2 against New Trier, bringing a historic season to the perfect close.
When asked what her expectations were heading into the State Tournament, Head Coach Anna Zorn said, “We came into the tournament with the confidence to win it all but also knew that it would not be easy. The expectations were high since we were coming in undefeated, but we told the girls to play with that confidence they earned, play for each other, and just enjoy the moment.”
Lily “Pickle” Coleman, a senior and co-captain, described the rising excitement before the final game. “Jim Cornelison, who sings that National Anthem at all of the Blackhawks’ home games, sang the national anthem, and Kendall Coyne, an Olympic gold medalist, dropped the first puck,” she said.
And when the game started, the Romans were dominating. Latin freshman Carla McSweeney, one of the leading scorers on the team, said, “The Championship was a great game. We came out fast, got the first goal and kept going from there.”
Senior and co-captain Margot Bettman agreed, saying, “It was super-high intensity, and everyone was feeling the excitement.”
The team’s energy on the ice emanated into the stands, which were filled with loyal Latin fans. One of those fans, freshman Kayley McCutcheon, said, “I felt a part of things even though I wasn’t on the ice. When they won, it was so exciting.”
Sami Aday, Latin’s lobby receptionist and die-hard Latin hockey fan, said, “Watching them win the State title was an amazing experience. They played very hard against a really good, fast team.”
Sami praised the team’s young talent, saying, “Carla had maybe 14 or 15 goals in those earlier games and freshman Sanya Arora had a bunch of them as well—I lost track.” Sami also shouted out Latin’s senior skaters, saying, “Watching senior and co-captain Pickle on defense was fun, and I can’t forget Margot on defense, shutting down speedy skaters, and sitting in the penalty box!”
Since the girls hockey team was formed in 2010, the program has boomed. The team is officially named the Chicago Romans Hockey Club, and it draws students from high schools around Chicago, including Latin, Jones College Prep, Lane Tech, St. Ignatius, Lincoln Park High School, and Whitney Young.
Latin alumna Margot Werner (‘15) was on Latin’s girls hockey team the last time they won the State Championship in 2015, and she won the coveted Blackhawks Keith Magnuson Scholarship that year, earning her a seat next to Patrick Kane at the awards ceremony. Ms. Werner shared some interesting history about the girls on Latin’s 2015 Championship Team, saying, “We formed downtown Chicago’s first girls hockey team back in the day—one hadn’t existed previously and a lot of us started skating on the boys’ teams!” The girls won their first State title when they were only 12 years old, when there was only one other girls team competing in the tournament. Going on to win State their senior year at Latin, she said, “was the sweetest way to cap off our high school and hockey playing careers all together.”
When asked about girls hockey’s rising popularity, Ms. Werner said, “It is incredible to see how much girls hockey has grown over the years—so many more players, teams and heightened competition.”
But despite the growth in the girls hockey program, Latin still has some work to do when it comes to celebrating hockey’s accomplishments compared to those of other sports. “Many students and teachers who had heard [about our State win] congratulated me when I saw them in the hall or in class.” Carla said. “Other than that, there wasn’t really any official recognition like there has been for other sports’ success, which is surprising since we had a perfect season, going undefeated and winning State.”
Ms. Werner said that she had experienced disinterest in hockey’s success during her time on the Latin team as well. “Maybe the school could support the team by sponsoring buses to take students to important games and/or ‘free skate’ nights where they encourage the student body to get on skates and develop a greater connection to the sport,” she said.
However, Latin girls hockey has gotten support from Chicago’s very own NHL team, the Blackhawks. “Just recently we were invited to a Blackhawks game by the Blackhawks as a congratulations for winning,” Carla said.
And, in true Blackhawks style, Latin’s win was a spectacular one, as shown in the highlights video of their final game. When the clock ran out, cheers exploded throughout the ice arena as the announcer broadcast the Romans’ victory over the loudspeakers. The girls were ecstatic and skated into a huddle, falling into a celebratory pile in the middle of the rink. Coach Zorn said, “The girls’ reaction was absolute joy—anytime you can throw your gloves in the air and celebrate with your teammates is an amazing feeling.”
Margot Bettman added, “It was great to hold the banner and celebrate with all of the fans that came to cheer us on.”
“It was truly a moment,” Pickle said, “that I will never forget.”