By JOHN WALK
Kim Holbert didn’t know she would end up enjoying ice hockey.
But then many years ago, her brother’s coach approached her looking for a goalie.
“I actually never wanted to play hockey. Then one day the coach sat with me and convinced me to try goalie,” Holbert said. “Then one practice I didn’t have goalie pads so I just skated out.”
A fifth-grader at the time, Holbert wound up falling in love with the sport. Seven years later, the West York High School senior is having one of her best seasons on the ice. The 18-year-old defender was recently named one of three all-star selections from the Central Pennsylvania Interscholastic Hockey League Tier 3 West York ice hockey team.
Of course, a girl in a sport dominated by boys hasn’t always been smooth skating for the 5-foot, 6-inch Holbert.
“There were some coaches in middle school that were against girls playing hockey. They hardly played me. It was just a rough time,” Holbert said. “And then there are always a couple guys on the team saying you shouldn’t be playing boys’ hockey. Opposing teams will target you. My freshman year a guy boarded me and I got a concussion.”
This season has been challenging as well. Holbert’s father, Paul, said the West York team nearly folded coming into the 2013-14 CPIHL season because of a lack in numbers but stayed afloat when players from surrounding schools were brought in and new coaches were hired.
“The players she grew up playing with, they would look out for her,” Paul Holbert said. “Now that she’s a senior and everyone on the team is younger than her they don’t have that camaraderie.”
Holbert’s adjustment to a West York roster of fresh faces was made even harder when she missed the opening weeks of the season to a newly-discovered lung condition.
“My lungs filled up with fluid,” Holbert said. “Now I take some medicine and get back out on the ice. And sometimes I have to use an inhaler.”
Plus, Holbert couldn’t immediately prove herself to the boys by putting up eye-popping numbers, much like her role model, Toni Sanders, had done. Sanders played for the Susquehanna Rapids girls’ and West York boys’ teams in high school and is now excelling for the women’s team at Rensselear (N.Y.) Polytechnic Institute. Holbert instead had to hold her own as a defender, a position she only started playing two years ago on the girls’ under-19 Hershey Junior Bears travel team.
“Typically a defender is back there because of checking. They like you to take the body out as a defenseman,” Paul Holbert said. “(Kim) is more of a finesse, poke-the-puck-away type. I think she can get away with that more. Her brother was like that, too.”
Holbert has notched one assist in the 2013-14 hockey season. Teammates Evan Maher (27 goals, seven assists) and Tanner Dillon (one goal, three assists) are the other two West York all-star selections. Maher is a senior who attends Spring Grove and Dillon is a senior at Dover. West York is 3-11-2 on the season.
The CPIHL all-star games are set for 7:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Twin Ponds East in Harrisburg. There were four CPIHL all-star teams selected in a draft. They will compete in two games on Wednesday.
Selections: Below is a list of other all-star selections from local CPIHL teams Susquehannock, Central York and Dallastown:
•Susquehannock: Senior forward Rick Mann (three goals, two assists), sophomore forward Nic Prego (eight goals, 10 assists), senior forward Adam Ciccotello (two goals, one assist) and senior goalie Alex Prego (172 saves, .796 save percentage). Mann and the Prego are Susquehannock students, while Ciccotello attends Kennard-Dale. Susquehannock is 7-9-1 in Tier 3 competition.
•Central York: Senior forward Adam Linker (three goals, nine assists), junior forward Collin Potter (13 goals, six assists), junior defender Nicholas Tranchitella (seven goals, five assists), senior defender Dylan Zavetsky (eight goals, seven assists) and senior goalie Stuart Perry (433 saves, .868 save percentage). Central York is 7-9 in Tier 1 competition.
•Dallastown: Senior defender Grant Duvall (10 goals, six assists), junior forward Ben Kelkis (20 goals, five assists) and senior defender Nicholas Werner (seven goals, six assists). Dallastown is 0-17 in Tier 1 action.
— Reach John Walk at email@example.com.