March 15, 2013

Editorial: Give the women some respect


---- — Congratulations and good luck to the unbeaten Plattsburgh State women’s hockey team as they compete in the NCAA Division III Championship in Wisconsin.

The team has earned its way to a remarkable record and will be making its ninth NCAA Tournament appearance in program history and its seventh trip to the final four.

The Cardinals spent 13 weeks atop the U.S. College Hockey Online Division III poll and have not lost any of their 28 games (two ended in ties), including a 5-2 victory over St. Norbert in the NCAA quarterfinals last Saturday to propel them to Wisconsin.

In tonight’s seminfinals, the Cardinals face Middlebury, which outlasted Norwich, 3-2, in overtime to book a trip to the tournament. Elmira and Gustavus Adolphus round out the competitors.

The women have proven this year that they can rise to challenges. The ECAC West Championships, which Plattsburgh earned the right to host, started with an easy 5-0 win against Neumann University in the semifinals. But the Cardinals had to rally twice to defeat Elmira College, 4-2, in the championship game.

Off the ice, the women have demonstrated class and community involvement. Just last month, the hundreds of people attending the Go Red for Women dinner were surprised by the hockey players, who skipped in to Westside Ballroom wearing red jerseys and boas to lend support to the rally against heart disease.

Our question is: Where is the community support for the women’s team?

Although respected, they are largely snubbed by a campus and community that is forever enamored of the men’s hockey team.

North Country sports fans love hockey, and the women’s games don’t even charge admission. But, despite that, the women Cardinals average 383 spectators per home game, compared to the men’s hockey team average of 1,840 per home game.

College students don’t show up for the women’s games, and neither do many community members. The college itself doesn’t do much to promote attendance. When the men play, for example, signs are placed around campus announcing the games; but not for the women.

The Press-Republican has seen the evolution of female sports in this area and can attest to the growth in the competitiveness and quality of games and athletes. Fans who don’t attend are missing out.

Sports writer Courtney Lewis will be in Wisconsin tonight to cover the Cardinals as they compete in the final four. You can follow her live updates on Twitter @SportsCourt and read about the game online tonight and then tomorrow in the print edition.

Plattsburgh coach Kevin Houle told the Press-Republican: “Certainly our goal is to win a national championship (this year), and it would be a disappointment not to win.”

Maybe another national championship is what it will take to build a stronger fan base for the impressive Plattsburgh State women’s hockey program.