Timing is never right when it comes to disbanding college hockey programs, but when it comes to the Niagara women’s team folding up shop per a news release last week, two Purple Eagles alumni aren’t taking the news sitting down.
Twin sisters Allisa and Allison Coomey, 2002 Niagara graduates and members of the 2002 Frozen Four team, have started an online petition to show the university that there’s support for the program.
Will it work? That’s anybody’s guess, but as the old saying goes, you’ll never know unless you try.
“When we found out March 19 that the program we were a part of from its initial existence would no longer be funded by the university, the only thing we knew to do was fight back,” Allisa Coomey said. “We know it’s eliminated at this point and thankfully, those on the team are finding new schools to play for, but it’s never going to be the school they chose first and the program they saw unlimited potential in.”
Interestingly enough, that 2002 team is the only Niagara athletic team ever to make it to the NCAA national semifinals.
Allison Coomey, an assistant coach at Boston University for the past four years after four years as an assistant at Niagara, simply wants Niagara to know that eliminating the program is not a popular decision.
“During my time at Niagara, there were never enough teams [in the CHA] to have an automatic bid,” Allison Coomey said. “Our only hope was to get an at-large bid to make it to the NCAA tournament, meaning we would most likely have to finish in the top five [of the national rankings]. CHA annual meetings were always focused on finding more teams to join the league. Other leagues provided insight on potential teams to join the CHA for the growth of the sport.
“It’s discouraging as an alum and someone who works in the profession to see this happen for the second year in a row. [Wayne State eliminated women's hockey last May.] Never would I have thought that the program I played for would have a part in disrupting the growth of a sport so many young women aspire to be a part of.”
Allisa Coomey has hit the ground running and is optimistic the petition numbers will continue to grow.
“We wanted to hear the thoughts of the fans and supporters of the Niagara women’s hockey team and how they feel about this abrupt decision,” said Allisa Coomey. “Of course, we’d love to see it reinstated. I am a coach of a girls youth hockey team and I know the impact a team not only has on its school, but on its community as well. The petition has had an overwhelming response thus far. We are getting support from fans, players, alum and collegiate coaches. It’s been encouraging to see the comments made by those in the community who support and have admired the players who have made a positive impact on the community.
“Right now, we’ve encouraged alumni to write letters to the administration and get students on campus engaged in the process of getting the word out. We’ve reached out to college coaches who understand the short but profound history of Niagara women’s hockey.”
“As alums who were never notified in advance of the decision, we wanted to make sure our voices were heard,” added Allison Coomey.
To view the petition, go to http://www.ipetitions.com/petition/elimination-of-nuwih/