Tewksbury High has a new building and a new principal -- now comes a new athletic program.
TMHS is making preparations for its first season of girls' ice hockey. Actually, the Redmen will be joining forces with longtime MVC rival Methuen High to form a co-op team to compete in the MVC/DCL conference.
Methuen is just starting a program too, so they are in the same boat we are," said TMHS Athletic Director Brian Hickey. "We're excited. We've been good partners in the MVC for years."
Co-op programs have become commonplace in high school hockey, as a means of maintaining the health of a program while keeping costs down. In Methuen High, Tewksbury has a partner that owns and operates an ice arena on its own campus, which will make the program very affordable.
Hickey said he has had inquiries from several girls interested in playing hockey winter but isn't sure how many players the first year program will attract.
"We're having an (organizational) meeting on Thursday. We'll have a better idea then," he said.
There are many Tewksbury girls who play for club hockey teams, including goalie Taylor Lirakis. A junior, Lirakis was the backup goalie on the boys varsity team last season and said she is looking forward to have the chance to represent Tewksbury High on a girls squad.
"I am very excited and looking forward to the new girls hockey program. This is a great opportunity for me to make the adjustment from boys hockey to girls hockey to prepare myself for college," said Lirakis. "I have never had experience with playing with any Methuen girls before, however I am excited about meeting new people and becoming a team. I heard they have some good skills to offer and I think this team has a lot of potential."
There are details still to be worked out, including the hiring of a coach. But some decisions have already been made, such as uniform design and color. According to Hickey, the home uniforms will feature Methuen's name and colors
(Blue and white), while the road uniforms will feature Tewksbury's name and familiar Red and White.
Hickey said he is gratified to be able to introduce a new team and expand Tewksbury High's athletic opportunities.
"It's all about give more kids the opportunity to play," he said. "I'm extremely grateful to the school committee and the administration for listening and giving us the opportunity to get this program going."
Practices for the winter season will officially begin on the Monday after Thanksgiving.