Florida Tech Hockey had their first victory in a year-and-a-half last Saturday.
But that’s not a surprise to Allie Folcik.
“It’s our sport,” she said. “Most of us have played our entire lives.”
Folcik has been playing hockey since she was in sixth grade, both women’s and men’s, and it’s come with a few challenges.
Folcik is the current vice president of Florida Tech Hockey, an American Collegiate Hockey Association DIII men’s hockey team.
Folcik and other women in the past have been allowed to play because there’s no other equivalent women’s team at Florida Tech.
“But it’s really up to me as a female playing, because obviously we’re smaller and if we can put up with it, then that’s great,” Folcik said. “I’m fine with it, but I know some people who aren’t.”
Folcik said women’s hockey is focused more on the technical skill, because they aren’t worried about getting hit, whereas men’s hockey is more physical and aggressive.
“I do actually really like playing guys’ hockey,” she said. “My team is very accepting, honestly. They know me now, they know I’m an honest player and that I’m serious and committed.”
But it’s when they play against other teams that she notices she’s — “The Girl.”
Sometimes she’s singled out. Sometimes other players won’t even hit her or touch her.
“Others think, ‘she shouldn’t be here on the ice— we should take her out,’” she said. “And that’s when my team stands behind me and they go after the guy for me.”
The double standard, or “stereotyping,” in Folcik’s words, has been a challenge for her to deal with at times.
“I’ve been hit dirty and the guy will come up to me afterward and be like, ‘Oh, I wouldn’t have hit you if I’d known you were a girl,’” Folcik said.
“I wouldn’t be playing if I couldn’t put up with it! I’m playing because I love the game and I’m aggressive enough that I can be playing it.”
She was flirted with once on the ice, she said, laughing.
“My first game, we were playing Palm Beach State. We were wearing the same number, and he was like ‘Nice number, but you wear it better!’.”
Being a female player on a men’s team means you have to be able to take a hit. Folcik said there are a lot of dirty hits in in the ACHA DIII league. For example, hitting from behind is illegal, as well as hitting other players with your stick.
“When a guy yells at someone, they’re macho. But if a girl’s doing it, they’re kind of a bitch or something,” she said with a shrug.
But she has also been very focused on the image of the club as a whole this year. Many people don’t realize that the team practices on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 11 p.m. late into the night.
“It kind of stinks when you have a test the next day and you’re staying up until 2 a.m. playing hockey,” Folcik said.
The players, for the most part, learn to change their sleeping schedules around. Or they sacrifice sleep.
“A lot of it depends on your major,” Folcik, who is studying biochemistry, said. “But again, college students don’t sleep. If you sleep, you’re not doing it right, you know?”
For the past few years, the hockey team hasn’t been winning games, and Folcik said she thinks the team has gotten a bad rap because of this. But they plan to change it all around and start winning games, starting with a strong executive board, contracts and committed players — all of which she said they have this year.
The team has two on-ice practices a week, an off-ice practice for conditioning, and they play five times a week if they have games.
“I think people don’t realize that it’s not just a club to us,” Folcik said. “We’re trying to be the best team we can be. We’re still wearing a Florida Tech jersey.”