High school notes: Williamson (Vikings), Hammer (Colonels) captaining Woodstock girls' hockey co-op

Jan. 4—When she was a sophomore at East Lyme High School, Mia Williamson was too old to play any longer for the Southeastern Connecticut Youth Hockey program, where she had started out in hockey and played for six seasons.

She stepped away from the sport completely. And missed it terribly.

"Junior year I was definitely ready to play again. My dad stumbled across Woodstock (Academy). They were gracious enough to let me join," Williamson said. "... You're going to the rink about five days a week. You're putting on all this heavy gear. But I love it.

"There's so much that goes into the game. You pretty much get out what you put in. I've had to work really hard to get where I'm at."

The Woodstock Academy cooperative girls' hockey team practices and plays its home games at Pomfret School, about 55 minutes from East Lyme, competing as a member of the Connecticut High School Girls' Hockey Association.

Among schools that have representation on the co-op are Woodstock, East Lyme. Killingly, Ledyard, Norwich Free Academy, Wheeler and Marine Science Magnet.

Williamson, a center, is the team's only senior and captains the Centaurs along with Ledyard junior defender Juliette Hammer. Woodstock sophomore Ellary Sampson serves as assistant captain.

Woodstock, coached by Eric Roy, next plays Jan. 12 at Hand. The Centaurs are 2-7, losing four games by two goals or fewer, including a 5-4 loss in overtime against Amity/Cheshire/New Haven on Dec. 20. That's also the day that Williamson blocked a shot with her right hand, needing surgery to have two pins placed in her thumb.

She is off the ice for three and a half more weeks as she waits for it to heal, but hopes to return by the end of the season.

Hammer, meanwhile, continues to play club hockey during the offseason with the Shoreline Sharks, an all-girls' hockey development program for girls ages 4-19, located in Northford. Hammer found out about the Woodstock team from Dan Williamson, Mia's dad, who was a former coach of hers.

"It's definitely worth it," said Hammer, who also has a commute to practice. "It's a great environment, all the girls are very positive. ... I was very surprised when I got chosen (captain), especially because I'm a junior."

Woodstock sophomores Maci Corradi and Sampson lead the team with seven points each, while Riley Faber, also from Woodstock, has five and Wheeler junior forward Sophia Gouveia has four. Corradi led the way last season with 23 points and Williamson had 16.

Williamson's brother, Wes, played in high school for the Eastern Connecticut Eagles and was also a member of East Lyme's successful boys' lacrosse team. Williamson admits needing to adjust for a bit when she came back to the game after a year away.

"The first practice, I was definitely feeling it for sure," she said this week. "My teammates were really awesome. ... I'd been around the game for a really long time. At the end of the year, I ended up being on the first line.

"We have a very young team; the majority of our girls are sophomores. I'm hopeful that we can turn it around. ... I'm so glad that I'm playing. I just knew I was not ready to give it up."

Don't give it a (35) second thought

It was announced in September of 2022 by the Connecticut Interscholastic Athletic Conference that a 35-second shot clock had been approved for varsity high school girls' and boys' basketball games in the state beginning with the 2023-24 season.

Ledyard High's Jim Buonocore and his fellow athletic directors around the Eastern Connecticut Conference began planning in the spring for a workshop to train the mandatory shot clock operators.

In October, Buonocore estimates that close to 100 people attended the workshop. Buonocore was assisted by the timing organization "Timing is Everything" and commissioner Steve Kirck, as well as basketball officials from Board 8.

"They did a terrific job," Buonocore said. "Steve orchestrated scenarios, like change of possession ... both those bleachers were full (of participants)."

Ledyard's shot clock operator on opening night for the girls' team was Chris Turner of Westerly, who played football at Ledyard under Buonocore and basketball under then-coach Dave Cornish. Chris is the son of Ledyard assistant principal Bill Turner and Wheeler athletic director Ellen Turner. One of the shot clock operators at Wheeler this season, Bill attended the workshop along with Chris.

"I think it's a pretty cool rule, especially for the kids that want to pursue this further," Chris Turner said. "I like it. I think it's a good rule. Get the game moving a little bit."

Turner said the biggest key is keeping focus — "You can't take your eyes off for a second, that's for sure," he said.

Asked if he had made any mistakes yet, Turner laughed.

"I haven't heard that I have, so I'm going to say 'no,'" he said, before adding a note of one-upmanship over his dad. "No big deal or anything, but we did the scrimmages together and they said I did better. So, not a big deal."

Keeping track

NFA junior Chris Amy won the boys' shot put at the most recent ECC indoor track developmental meet at Coast Guard with a throw of 55 feet, 6.75 inches. Amy set the indoor school record, previously belonging to Cam Belton at 53-11.5 and recorded the second best throw in the state this season behind East Lyme's Thomas Matlock (59-4).

Among other highlights from the morning session at the Coast Guard track, New London's Darielys Arnold took the girls' 55 dash (7.65) and long jump (15-10), Ledyard's Kate Littler won the girls' 1,000 (3:11.24) and 1,600 (5:37.03) and Jeremiah Bobbi of Lyman Memorial was first in the 55 dash (6.78) and the 300 (38.07) on the boys' side.

Matlock won the shot put in the second session at 57-10.75.