Freshman forward/defenseman Claire Leonard has been playing hockey for as long as she can remember, so when she came to Michigan State, she wasn’t ready to give it up.
The chemical engineering major was able to find not only an education at MSU but also a new team.
Leonard is one of 11 rookies who make up the 22-woman roster of the Michigan State women’s club ice hockey Division I team this season, and when she started telling people about her new team, she noticed a common trend.
“When I tell people I play hockey, they're like, 'We have a hockey team?'” Leonard said. “It's just very sad when people don't even realize that we exist.”
The team, which plays under the American Collegiate Hockey Association and within the Central Collegiate Women's Hockey Association, is a player run, self-funded group that relies heavily on fundraising for things like equipment, ice time and travel for games — which is no small sum.
“It's a lot of expenses just to enjoy a sport that we have been playing all of our lives and just want to continue doing 'cause it's something we love,” Leonard said.
Senior captain Katie Novell has been a part of the team since her freshman year and sees the team as a place to get away from school and outside issues that might be plaguing her.
“All of our trips and everything we do comes directly out of our bank accounts and, if you didn't know, hockey is so expensive,” Novell said.
In charge of fundraising is junior defenseman Grace Duerr. Duerr organizes events like the team's annual golf fundraiser and other miscellaneous fundraising efforts.
In February the team is headed to Arizona State to play a crucial non-conference series that can help them move up in the national rankings and hopefully qualify them for the ACHA Nationals in March.
On Nov. 14, Duerr shared the link to a Go Fund Me page on Twitter. The page has received 35 donations so far, amounting to just over $1,500 in less than a month of its creation.
“The price to travel is incredibly high for all of us, but necessary to play the sport we love at the highest level offered to us," Duerr said in a tweet.
if you didn’t already know, i play for the MSU ACHA D1 womens ice hockey team. we’re a fully self-funded team with zero help from @michiganstateu and we’re trying to raise money for our trip to ASU for a 2 game series that can make or break our contention for nationals