The inaugural season of the WNY Girls Ice Hockey Federation will have a seventh team this fall -- Lancaster.
The Lancaster Central School Board created a varsity girls hockey team Monday night. But like Orchard Park, the program will not be paid for by district taxpayers. Volunteers will seek donations to pay for the program this year.
"I think they deserve a chance," Athletic Director Len F. Jankiewicz said.
The program will cost $22,000, and the money must be raised by Oct. 1 for the team to participate in this year's season, Superintendent Edward Myszka said.
He said the School Board was always in favor of having a girls hockey team, but it had to grapple with declining state aid and the budget crisis.
"We couldn't put the expenditure into the budget this coming school year," he said. "Quite frankly, we laid off 27 individuals."
Parents and students have been working to start a girls' hockey league in Section VI for more than a year. They have been attending school board meetings at various districts, lobbying for the sport.
"They gave us so many hurdles," parent Larry Blas said. "Now we have three months."
Blas, who has coached girls hockey for 10 years, said parents were reluctant to start raising money without knowing if a team would be created by the district.
"I can't ask for money if we don't have team. It's the chicken and the egg deal," he said.
If successful at fundraising, Lancaster will join teams from Williamsville, Amherst, Kenmore-Town of Tonawanda, Orchard Park/Frontier (combined team) and West Seneca school districts, and the Monsignor Martin Association, representing all Catholic schools.
A minimum of five teams was needed to create the league.
"It's going to be a little bit of an uphill battle because we only have three months," Blas said.