In between stretching and juggling a soccer ball, one player notices the ponytail jutting out of the helmet of a St Louis AAA Blues’ defenseman, cutting a swath between the 5 and 5 on her white jersey.
“Dude, check it out,” he shouts to no one in particular. “They have a girl on their team.”
The observation quickly spurs the type of comments one would expect from a bunch of high school-aged boys whose testosterone is racing minutes before a big game. But the observant teen interrupts the frat boy humor with an astute observation.
“No dude, check it out. She can play.”
Still, the jokes and comments ensue.
“Just shut up and watch. That girl is good.”
As the only female on the Blues, and the only female competing at this year’s Youth Nationals, Jincy Dunne knows that her presence on the ice produces second looks. Still, she expects no special favors, even when things get physical on the ice.
“She does a very good job of standing up for herself. She has the mentality where she doesn’t want anyone to stand up for her,” says Wilson, who admits that even he gets a little riled up when opposing players take runs at her.
“You have to respect that. She’s a competitor. Still, the guys kind of know when to jump in. It’s pretty neat to see.”
“It’s been kind of a whirlwind, to say the least,” says Jincy’s mother Tammy, who recently traded in her white Suburban after the odometer hit 320,000 miles from driving her six hockey-playing children to rinks around the Midwest and beyond.
“Most of the time I try to keep my mouth shut,” she admits. “For me personally all the jibber jabber between the teams doesn’t help anything. I just try to keep my head up, stay smart and know that my teammates have my back.”