Glenwood Springs hockey family big on growing the girls’ game in the valley
The family that skates together, stays together. And, the Pulliam family of Glenwood Springs is as closely tied as their skates and as tough as the ice they glide across.
When you think of a hockey family, you might picture a family full of boys. But, for the Pulliams, this talented hockey family is made up of mostly girls.
“As a family, we ice skate lakes together, and the girls seem to love what they do,” said mother Lynsey Pulliam.
The boyish sport proves to be not just for the boys.
The fast and tough sport that reminds some people of missing teeth is a big part of the Pulliam family, as both parents, Josh and Lynsey, play on adult teams and coach girls youth teams in Glenwood Springs; and both daughters, Paige and Kelaini grew to love the sport and now play competitively.
Even their dog is named “Celly” because Josh promised Kelaini he would buy her a dog if she scored a goal. Celly is a hockey term for the team celebration that occurs when a goal is scored.
Kelaini explained what dangle, snipe, celly means (the perfect sniper goal), but she didn’t say if that’s how she scored her goal. But, it does sound like it’s how she scored her dog.
For this family, hockey is a main part of life.
As the boys hockey team at Aspen High School shrunk this season from dropping varsity hockey to junior varsity, the youth girls hockey team, the Leafs, is holding strong, with the 19U club team currently ranked second in the Colorado Girls Hockey League.
“The support that Aspen gives the girls program has been tremendous in our experience of them really pushing for that growth in that area,” said Lynsey. “It’s made a difference.”
The family lives in Glenwood Springs, with Paige, the oldest daughter at 16, regularly commuting to Aspen to play for the Leafs.
“They introduced me to it when I was young,” Paige said. “I started pretty early playing hockey as a little kid and got into it for a while and became passionate about it later.”
Her parents started a recreation team in Glenwood when she was young, and, when she outgrew the team, she eventually moved up to play competitively for the 19U team in Aspen. They said when she got to that level and left the recreation team, it fell apart.
“Aspen was kinda like the one solid closest place that I had access to girls hockey,” she said.
Lynsey and Josh now coach 12U and 15U teams they started up in Glenwood and hope to continue to grow it. They started up the 15U team when Kelaini grew to that level.
“That’s what we’re trying to build now is Kailani’s age level,” Josh said. “She had to move up this year an age level to that 15U team, so we tried to do both. It’s the first year of having two girls specific teams here in the Glenwood program.”
Lynsey said the Glenwood teams have a lot of talent. Many of the girls on the younger teams are good enough to play on the older team, as well, she said.
Kelaini seems to enjoy it all but wishes for more girls to play with, so they are not playing short as often.
“It benefits our programs, in general, when we have multiple teams all over the region, and we can come together,” Lynsey said. “We share players and we support each other, and, regardless of what team we’re from, we’re ultimately all in the same goal of trying to get more females in the sport.”
Although both girls were not fully sure they enjoyed the sport when they played with the boys, they both grew to appreciate it a lot more when they were solely playing with other girls.
“I love playing with the girls,” Paige said. “There’s more opportunity to play.”
Kelaini also appreciated having more playtime when switching to an all-girls team.
Paige’s love of hockey is not just for the sport, but also because of the camaraderie of her teammates. The bonds created have greatly impacted the joy of the sport for her.
“She’s got a home with Aspen,” Lynsey said. “That’s one other reason we took Paige to Aspen. It’s just been a very successful and well-established girls program for a number of years.”
Paige plays on both the Aspen Leafs and the Mountain Select, which is a regional team that travels more. Although some of her teammates switch from being on her team to being in competition, they don’t chirp. It is just friends playing a fun sport at the end of the day.
The Glenwood team continues to grow under Josh and Lynsey, so Kelaini and other young girls in the future can have an opportunity to play in their own backyard.
“Obviously, our focus right now is growing the girls program and providing the opportunity to teach these girls about hockey and just to be better people in general,” Josh said.
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