In her native Minnesota, thousands of teenage girls play ice hockey — both for their school and year-round traveling teams.
But in Texas, Eleanor Winges is such an anomaly that many of her Episcopal School of Dallas classmates called her “Hockey Girl” before they knew her name.
However, the ESD senior takes in stride the culture shock, on and off the ice, that came with relocating from the Twin Cities to Dallas in 2019.
“I don’t think my friends are the hockey types,” Winges said. “They’re always super interested and shocked because it’s not very big here.”
Winges is a standout defender for Dallas Stars Elite, the only girls traveling team in the Dallas area. After graduation, she will play on the women’s team at Harvard.
“It would be awesome to see girls hockey grow in Texas.”Eleanor Winges
She started as a figure skater but preferred the teamwork and adrenaline rush of hockey. By the time she was a freshman, she had made the varsity squad at an all-girls private school in St. Paul.
“I fell in love with the sport while watching my brother,” said Winges, whose father also played hockey in high school. “So I tried it, and I loved it.”
Dallas Stars Elite frequently plays against boys teams during its season because of the lack of competition. The team heads out of town to girls-only tournaments once or twice per month.
Hockey season for Winges typically runs from about August until May. She also competes for ESD in tennis.
Her school does have a team in field hockey, a sport that coincidentally hasn’t gained much traction in Minnesota. But on the ice? Growth in this area has been slow but steady.
“It would be awesome to see girls hockey grow in Texas,” Winges said. “It’s so fun to be able to see your teammates in the hallways. It helps you bond a bit more. It’s different not having anyone at my school being on the same team.”
The Dallas Stars professional team recently started sponsoring Rookie Girls, a free event for youngsters to generate interest in the game among beginners. It has other programs in the works, too.
Winges committed to Harvard during her freshman year in Minnesota. If all goes well, she hopes a professional career will follow.
“I’m going to be as much like a sponge as possible,” she said.
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