The Puerto Rico women’s hockey team claimed victory at the 2021 Amerigol Latam Cup in Florida. Team captain and professional player for EVRY VIRY in France, Jazmine Miley, along with Scott Vargas, began recruiting players to represent the women’s team and due to COVID-19, it prevented some players from wanting to travel.
Nevertheless, Miley and Vargas were able to obtain enough women to compete in the tournament, the team only practiced once before beginning their debut.
“It was mainly to get the travel kinks out since we all had to fly in,” Miley recalled. “The team consists of players as young as 14 and we also have a mother/daughter duo on the team. Some of us have played with each other or against each other in the past. Our players have a wide range of experience and skills. We have travel hockey players, college players, adult league and professionals, but regardless of skills we all played a part on the ice.”
Once these women hit the ice, their momentum began to build after their first win against Chile despite not having had much time together prior to the tournament.
“I approached the competition with the intention of working hard, having fun, and mixing with the other teams. It’s not everyday that you have a full rink of players that look just like you. Also, I think the team expected to have fun while working hard. Our continued success raised everyone’s expectations,” Miley stated.
This team has not only made a lasting imprint in hockey by representing their country of Puerto Rico, but to some team members, this group of women meant much more than hockey.
Assistant Captain, Alana Lopez notes, “I never really belonged anywhere. That’s just how it was growing up playing a predominantly white sport. Playing for team Puerto Rico has made me realize that I finally fit somewhere. I’m accepted by my teammates and we also have a common understanding that ours was a hard upbringing in this sport. We can empathize with one another because even though we surely all are worthy of playing, it didn’t always feel that way. Being elected as assistant captain has been nothing but an honor. In my first weekend on duty, I have felt nothing but pride for my island and for the women who play beside me. It has been an incredible honor and we are only just getting started.”
While each and every member of this team played a role in securing the title of champion, goaltender, Julianna Rodgers, had a shutout championship game to help the team become victorious over Columbia.
“It feels pretty good to know in getting a shut out I did my part to help us get the win and the gold, Rodgers said. “It means so much to me to be a part of this team. Especially being so young we have a bright future in growing the sport of hockey in PR.”
So what’s next for the Puerto Rico women’s team? Miley has her eyes set on securing a spot in the International Ice Hockey Federation while also wanting to work with the Mayor of Puerto Rico to continue build an ice rink on the island.
“A hockey team is supposed to feel like family and a sisterhood, Team Puerto Rico is the first team I’ve played and been a part of that truly felt like a family. We share the same culture, we look like each other one way or the other and we share the same pride for our country. This is just the beginning and we are skating through history,” Miley stated.