EASTHAM — The Cape Cod Furies started out five years ago as a co-op ice hockey club for girls from three Lower Cape high schools: Nauset, Monomoy, and Cape Cod Tech. Because it was a club — not school-funded — the girls had to pay to play.
“It was $500 just to play, plus equipment for every girl,” Addie Weeks said. She has been the Furies’ head coach for the last three years, alongside assistant coach Noelle Smith. Steve Hirschberger also serves as a volunteer assistant coach for the team.
In the 2018-19 school year the team became a registered co-op varsity team funded by the three high schools. Now in its second year of funding, the team is growing in size and ability, with 16 girls and one boy: 12 students from Nauset, four from Monomoy, and one from Cape Cod Tech.
“This year we’re a lot more connected,” Nauset junior Tess Taloumis of Harwich said. “Skillwise, we’re a lot better.”
Weeks and Smith both played ice hockey growing up. Weeks graduated from Harwich High School in 2009, where she played on the boys’ hockey team as well as the Cape Cod Waves girls’ program in Dennis. She spent a postgrad year playing for the New Hampton School in New Hampshire and then at Endicott College. Smith played for the Tilton School in New Hampshire.
The Furies are currently 1-3-3, with the next game scheduled against Nantucket High School on Jan. 15. Their other opponents include Martha’s Vineyard, Falmouth, Barnstable, Sandwich, Plymouth South, Old Rochester, Bishop Stang, Dennis-Yarmouth, and Pembroke.
All Get to Play
Everyone who comes out for the Furies gets to play. “There are no cuts because the idea is you need numbers to foster the program,” Weeks said. “But we’re trying to compete and win by developing true hockey players.”
The team’s practice on Jan. 3 was revealing. Packed into one hour of ice time at the Charles Moore Arena in Orleans were multiple fast-paced passing, shooting, and scrimmaging drills. Most of the skaters were quick, smooth, and accurate. The team’s goaltenders did not make it easy, either.
The only clue that the players were female was the long hair sticking out of the helmets (although male hockey players are known for long hair, too).
Most of the team members had parents or brothers who played. They figured they could do it, too. Some played for the Waves, others for the Lower Cape Coyotes. The Coyotes are predominantly boys, but girls are welcome.
Nauset sophomore Sophie Coelho of Truro is in her first year playing for the Furies. She played for the Coyotes growing up.
“It’s really fun,” said Coelho. “We’ve come together and really play as a team.”
Nauset freshman Emily Underhill of Harwich and sophomore Charlotte Manganaro of Eastham said they both grew up playing because of their fathers.
“My dad really liked hockey and wanted me to be better than my brother,” Underhill said.
“My mom was born in Michigan,” Nauset senior Margaret Dickson of Brewster said, noting that ice hockey is extremely popular in that state. “I’ve been playing since I was three years old.”
Breaking Out of Boxes
Myya Beck of Wellfleet, owner of the Heart Core Fitness Studio, played on the boys’ ice hockey team at Provincetown High School, where she was a member of the class of 1998. She said she’s seen the number of girls playing for the Coyotes grow over the years.
“I started in junior high and played on the junior varsity team,” Beck said. “I played through high school and I loved it.”
The Waves were founded when Beck was in high school and she began playing for that team as well. She said her coaches and teammates in Provincetown were extremely supportive, but players and fans of other teams were not always kind.
“Provincetown kids always got taunted by other schools,” Beck said. “One time there were kids harassing us. They said, ‘You’re a bunch of faggots, you know.’ I said, ‘Are you kidding me? At least get it right: I’m a dyke.’ ”
Beck said as she developed skills on the ice in her junior and senior years opposing players started gunning for her, but she appreciated it and held her own. She didn’t want to be treated differently.
“I wouldn’t change it for the world,” Beck said.
Now 39, Beck said her hockey playing helped her launch a career in fitness.
“I think it added to my self-determination and not settling, just pushing to keep going and moving forward,” she said. “It’s about breaking out of boxes that people put you in.”
Weeks said the Furies still face some prejudice today. At games the referees shake hands with Steve Hirschberger first, assuming he is the head coach.
The Zamboni cleans the ice between the first, second, and third periods of boys’ games, and the boys’ teams get a 10-minute warmup period as well, Weeks said. But the girls get the ice cleaned only between the second and third periods and don’t have as long a warmup. These small slights add up.
Dickson said the Furies don’t get the same amount of support in the stands as other Nauset teams. But the players said they are more connected than ever before. Their goal for this year is to make the state tournament: they need a record above .500 to do so.