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Michigan women’s hockey details hurdles while pushing to become NCAA program

ANN ARBOR— Thursday, the University of Michigan took a major step in adding an NCAA women’s hockey program to their list of varsity athletics.

In Thursday’s Regents meeting- UofM Member of the Board of Regents and sister to Detroit Red Wings CEO– Denise Ilitch stated that it was time the University of Michigan get a women’s varsity hockey program. She made sure to make mention of other Big 10 programs who are dominating the sport, with Michigan natives on their teams.

At the meeting, was current women’s hockey head coach Jenna Trubiano.


“I appreciate everything she’s done as well as the other regents to support our program publicly on the record last Thursday. That meant a lot. I never thought it was going to happen or happen this fast. A lot of people said it would never happen, but it seems like it’s happening,” the head coach said.

There is a lot of speculation as to why the university has never had a varsity women’s program. Issues such as funding and space for the program at 101-year-old Yost Ice Arena being some of the main points of discussion.

Stepping in to take a closer look at these issues would be the NHL. They will conduct what is called a feasibility study where they take into consideration the technical and financial aspects of the addition of women’s hockey.

“I’ll be excited to see how everything unfolds,” Trubiano said. “Just to have the backing of an Ilitch is something that I really appreciate...they’re obviously well known in Detroit, especially when it comes to Hockeytown.”


If the team were to become a varsity program in the future– many of the struggles the team currently faces would become non-issues.

Traverse City native, Kelsey Swanson, started her collegiate hockey journey in the varsity ranks at Long Island University before transferring to Michigan to focus on her academics. She has noticed many key differences with how programs at the varsity versus club level are treated.

“First of all, we don’t have a locker room here… we have to bring out bags to and from the rink for practices every night… We also don’t get the best time slots for ice time. We practice Wednesday nights from 10-11:30 at night and then Monday Thursdays are 9pm to 10. Where we train here, we have to drive like 20 minutes away to work out,” Swanson noted.

According to Swanson, the players currently pay $1,200 a semester to be on the team. Newcomers must also purchase their own uniform kits.


The Michigan club team has worked hard to become competitive in the ACHA since Trubiano took over the program in 2021, an unpaid role she happily took to continue the betterment of her alma mater. She recently took the team to their second-straight ACHA nationals tournament berth. With a full-time job she now spends her spare time at practice, games, managing the team’s social media accounts, and recruiting on her own dime.

But since the team is at the club level- the women she spends her time recruiting still have to meet Michigan’s selective standards for admission.

“Michigan is becoming increasingly competitive. I have no way of flagging the student that would be our top player. I have no way of doing that. So that would be something that would be advantageous. Also, just in terms of the strength of our program, being able to access the transfer portal [would be helpful],” Trubiano said.

Regardless of what happens following the feasibility study, the Michigan women have undoubtedly helped grow the sport in their own right. They currently boast over 19,000 followers across social media platforms, something Trubiano says has helped with recruiting.

“The ten years I’ve been here, it’s been really incredible. Every year, something new happens. President Ono came to the last regular season home game and dropped the puck and that was really special,” she said. “Actions speak louder than words and we’re seeing a lot of action right now, which is really, really, special.”

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