St. Mary's of High School of Lancaster announced Monday that it will add girls ice hockey to its varsity sports offerings.
The new St. Mary's team will compete in the Western New York Girls Varsity Ice Hockey Federation.
One St. Mary's athlete, senior defender Haylee Luderman, played for the combined Monsignor Martin Athletic Association team that won the WNY Fed championship this past season. Girls from Nardin, Mount St. Mary, Sacred Heart and Mount Mercy played for the Monsignor Martin team.
St. Mary's will stand alone with its team. All of the present teams in the WNY Fed are combined of athletes from two or more schools.
The girls team program will be developed by the school's director of hockey, Mark Dantonio.
The growing number of girls playing for outside club and travel teams provided some of the impetus for St. Mary's to make its decision.
"As a premier co-ed private school, it is important for us to be a leader when it comes to gender equality in all facets of our school community,” said Kevin Kelleher, St. Mary’s Head of School. “When there is a legitimate interest from our girls in a sport that isn't currently offered and the numbers are there, we have a responsibility to provide these types of opportunities for our students. The right decision, here, is to form our own girls hockey program."