Women’s Hockey Celebrates 20 Years on the Ice

Women’s Hockey Celebrates 20 Years on the Ice

Women's hockey at Lake Forest College dates back to 1987 when it began as a club sport. It grew quickly in popularity among the students, and after 12 years holding club status, in May 1999, it was announced that it would become the College's 17th varsity sport.

Then-Athletic Director Jackie Slaats led the charge for the change in varsity status for the sport and was the driving force in getting women's hockey included in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association (NCHA). On April 8, 2000, Slaats and four of her fellow athletic directors laid the groundwork and solidified plans for the creation of the league. The plans that were ratified the very next day, and on May 7th, the College’s Board of Trustees approved the move. (To read more about the NCHA’s 20th year recognition of women's hockey, click here.)

With Slaats’ vision and determination, the Forester women's hockey team was ready to go for their inaugural season in winter of the 2000-2001 academic year. T.R. Bell '96, who currently serves as the College's head women's soccer coach, jumped on the opportunity to become the first head coach of the newly minted varsity team in '00. He led the team to 4-11-1 record, finishing 4th in Conference and 4th in the Conference tournament. Taking over the reins for Bell was Susie Bellizzi, who continued to lead the team for four years.

The program continued to gain traction and lasting success under the coaching of Carisa (Zaban) Wahlig, winning their first Conference championship in 2010. In 2014, they won the Conference title and the Conference tournament; that year, they were the first team in the NCHA to earn a spot at the NCAA tournament. They also won the Conference tournament in 2015, again receiving a bid to the NCAA tournament.

The winner of the NCHA tournament receives the Slaats Cup to honor now Vice President of Athletics and Career Advancement, Jackie Slaats for her role in establishing the league and for all the hard work that she continues to devote to the NCHA.

Lake Forest College women's hockey is the only charter member remaining in the league. The program is under the leadership and guidance of Jennifer Wilson, who is in her second year with the team. The Foresters are currently 10-8-1 on the season and are second in the league, and are continuing what Slaats helped begin 20 years ago.