The snow swirls around the schoolyard, settling on the steps of Edina High School. A teenage girl appears in the doorway, smoothly and quickly sweeping the snow away. Jenny Hanley, a 17-year-old senior and the school's most recent Queen of the Snow Court, is in her element: Her snow-removal tool of choice is a hockey stick. Jenny is the backup goalie for the Edina Hornets, a traditionally strong boys team. Other girls have made varsity rosters, but none on a powerhouse team.
Hanley strapped on hockey skates at age four and hasn't missed a full season since.
``I guess you could say I've been playing since I was that young, tripping over my own feet,'' Hanley says.
She doesn't trip much anymore. Hanley won 9 of her 10 starts. Her only loss (4-2) came last Saturday in the final playoff game. Her goals-against average has hovered around two per game all season.
Team captain Josh Hoekstra has been Hanley's teammate since Pee Wees. In the violent collisions around the net, Hanley doesn't back down, he says. ``One time in Bantams, things were getting a little heavy in the game,'' Hoekstra recalls. ``It was against a Canadian team. She laid out one of those guys just like he was nuthin'.''
Jenny says she hasn't experienced frustration in her sports career. ``The players on the team treat me well,'' she says. Once the heavy, sound-muffling goalie mask and pads are donned, it is virtually impossible to determine the sex of the goaltender, or to rattle her. ``I haven't gotten any grief from the other team or fans. For one thing, I couldn't hear them even if they were yelling,'' she says.
Providence College has shown interest in Hanley for its women's program.