Written by: Jeremy Goode
Two Snider Hockey Alumnae are building upon their time with the Foundation and starting a new chapter in their hockey careers at Neumann University. After many years of participating with Snider Hockey, Jasmine Martinez and Victoria Maloney will join the Neumann University Knights NCAA Division III women's hockey team for the 2020-21 season. They will be teammates with Georgia Wunder, a sophomore, who joined the Knights last season and also skated with Snider Hockey for many years.
“I am very excited for Jasmine and Victoria. This is a culmination of all of the hard work these two have put in over the last few years,” Casey Kilduff, Senior Coordinator of Girls Hockey Programs at Snider Hockey, said. “Neumann is so lucky to have them. As their former coach and a NUWIH alumni, I cannot wait to see them wear the Knights sweater!”
Maloney and Martinez have been dedicated Snider Hockey students. They participated in after-school programming, traveled with hockey teams to compete across the country, represented Snider Hockey at numerous special events, and earned several scholarships throughout their time with the Foundation. After graduating from high school, they joined the Snider Hockey coaching staff to serve as role models for younger students. Both players have spent years pushing themselves for an opportunity to play hockey at the collegiate level. Often, this meant sacrificing free time to improve on the ice.
“There were times where I could not hang out with friends, I missed my induction to the National Honors Society and almost missed my prom,” Maloney, a freshman at Neumann, said. “I wanted to get my hockey game as exposed as possible.”
These new members of the Knights’ women’s hockey team first picked up a hockey stick at Simons Recreation Center and Tarken Recreation Center, respectively. They both had family ties to the Foundation, with younger and older brothers already participating. Both Maloney and Martinez excelled quickly, learning how to skate and stickhandle within their first year.
Having long had childhood hopes to play collegiate hockey, Maloney knew that in order to accomplish this, she would have to start at a young age. This meant lots of skating and traveling to play competitive hockey in front of college coaches. She did this while also battling doubts about not being good enough.
“I played in Beantown Hockey Night in Boston and other tournaments with Snider Hockey and thought I would play terribly early on,” Maloney said. “I realized I was a lot better than I expected and could see myself doing this at college.”
Maloney’s success at Snider Hockey led several Division III schools to take notice and pursue her as a student athlete for their school women’s hockey team. After reaching out through email, she drew interest from several schools, including King’s College, Anna Maria College, and Neumann University.
“My coaches told me I had a great chance to go to Neumann and a great opportunity to play college hockey for free,” Maloney said, referring to the Goals and Assists Scholarship she earned from Snider Hockey, which will cover full tuition at Neumann. “That sounded a lot better than being in debt.” She decided to attend Neumann.
Justin Foley, Site Coordinator at the Simons Recreation Center has spent years watching Maloney grow as a player and as a coach. He acknowledged that she always puts the work in in order to be successful.
"'I've known Victoria for about seven years now and I've had the honor of watching her play and grow within the Snider Hockey community," Foley said. "Her work ethic is second-to-none and her willingness to help is limitless.
A self-described gritty player, Maloney, a center, also characterized herself as a hard worker and even sometimes reckless. She would do anything necessary to stop or score a goal, or to simply put a point on the board. Maloney was satisfied even if she did not record a statistic, as long as she was contributing to the team’s overall success.
While Maloney has only been a part of the Knights hockey team for a few months, she wants to be a leader right away.
“I want to be the best skilled player on the team but I also want to be a mentor and leader,” Maloney said. “I know I’m just a freshman, but that was my role at Snider Hockey to help people become better players.”
Snider Hockey is not the only one excited about the new academic opportunity. Neumann University President, Dr. Chris Domes, is also excited to partner with the Foundation.
“The Goals and Assists Scholarship offers Snider Hockey alumni a tremendous opportunity to pursue a college education,” Domes said. “We are so proud to be part of this legacy and appreciate all the support that the Foundation provides to each student.”
Division III hockey was a big step up for Maloney. She noted that her time skating at Simons Rec Center and participation with the girl’s travel teams helped make the transition easier.
“I feel like I fit in really well. I know there will be a learning curve but being able to practice with them has shown me I’m not a fish out of water,” Maloney said.
Foley has no doubt Maloney will excel at Neumann. He believes that her time thriving at Snider Hockey will carry over, both on and off the ice at Neumann.
"She is an excellent teammate, leader and ambassador of Snider Hockey. I’ll be following her Neumann hockey career for sure," Foley said.
Jasmine Martinez, a junior at Neumann, had a different journey to the Knights women’s hockey team. After spending two years at West Chester University, Martinez wanted to focus more on academics, leading her to transfer to Neumann for her junior year.
“I always wanted to study sports management and West Chester did not have that option for me,” Martinez said.
After she completed two years at West Chester, Snider Hockey added Neumann as a partner with the Goals and Assists Scholarship. Martinez wanted to take advantage of the opportunity, since Neumann offered her desired major. She would also be able to play collegiate hockey at the Division III level. After lots of paperwork, Martinez was able to transfer to Neumann, where she is now on pace to graduate as a sports management major. She hopes to earn her master’s degree at Neumann as well.
In addition to being able to focus on academics in sports management, Martinez also is advancing athletically. At West Chester, she was only able to compete at the club level.
“We played really good teams but our team was not college level,” Martinez said. “We had people who never played hockey in their life step on the ice their freshman year of college.”
Martinez’s journey to the Neumann women’s hockey team was different from Maloney’s. While Maloney was recruited by Neumann, Martinez had to try out, essentially walking onto the team. And she had to do this during a pandemic, during the first semester after transferring too Neumann.
“I had to try out for the team during COVID,” Martinez said. “After several months, my coach started giving me gear and told me I put good effort in and had made the team at the forward position.”
That Martinez made Neumann’s hockey team came to no surprise to Kilduff.
“Jasmine has accomplished just about everything a Snider Hockey student can accomplish and then some,” Kilduff said. “From all of her scholarships, to her close relationship with David Cohen of Comcast, to making the Neumann Women’s Team, I think the biggest impact she has is proving to everyone that the opportunities that Snider Hockey offers are truly life changing.”
Kilduff, now also a co-worker with Martinez as they both coach the Snider Hockey U-12 team, has developed a strong relationship with her.
“I relied on her heavily because of her hockey and leadership skills… we are always in communication and I consider her a very good friend,” Kilduff said.
When asked about hopes and wishes for the season, Martinez kept it simple, explaining she wanted to build off of the success she had at West Chester.
“I’m hoping to get some goals on the scoresheet,” Martinez said. “At West Chester we played in the DVCHC and ACHA leagues, and I was ranked second and first in points and goals so I’m hoping to be somewhere up there at Neumann but playing at Neumann will be an adjustment.”
Goals & Assists is a partnership between the Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation and Give Back which provides Snider Hockey participants with the opportunity to attend one of several post-secondary institutions tuition free. Goals & Assists is dedicated to helping inspire and academically motivate young people to excel, despite financial and social challenges.
“Our mission and values at Neumann University align with the values and educational goals that are central to the incredible work of Snider Hockey,” Domes said. “It is our hope that Jasmine and Victoria are the first of many Snider Hockey alumni to find a home at Neumann University.”
The Goals & Assists Foundation also offers scholarships to the Community College of Philadelphia, Elizabethtown College, Kutztown University, Rowan University, the University of Delaware, University of the Sciences, West Chester University, and Williamson College of the Trades through similar partnerships.