The Press Newspaper
Reaghan Pietrowski didn’t want anything to do with tutus and leotards when she was a young girl.
Even at age 5, she had her eye on skates and hockey sticks.
“My brother (Tyler) played hockey and I would always go to his games,” Reaghan said. “My mom signed me up for ballet and I said, ‘I don’t like doing this. I want to play hockey and I want to do this all my life.’ ”
Reaghan’s mom, Kersten, said she and her husband, Mike, have fond memories of watching their daughter playing hockey in the family driveway in Curtice with Tyler (now 17), when she was 5 years old.
“She just loved it,” Kersten said. “She’s a tough girl because of it. When she was playing with boys, everyone kind of laughed because she never backed down. She had an older brother who did not go easy on her.”
Reaghan, 12, is now in her first season playing for the Little Caesars AAA 12-U girls hockey team, based in Detroit. For the past two years, however, she played forward on the Sylvania Maple Leafs’ Team Raszka, an all-boys team. The team’s manager is Ray St. John, also a Curtice resident.
“This is a team of boys, with her as the only girl, in which she was as much as one and a half years younger than any boy on the team,” St. John said. “She has always worked as hard, if not harder, on and off the ice than any of the older boys on the team. She has always shown determination, dedication and commitment to being a leader and a role model for everyone around her.
“She has been a huge part of helping our team win back-to-back LCAHL championships. This girl has made such an impression on her teammates, coaches and myself as team manager. She makes everybody better just being around her.”
Reaghan, a high honor-roll seventh-grader at Genoa Junior High, said she played goalie in her first organized hockey game.
“I have a memory of me being a goalie for the first time,” she said. “The boys said they were going to score on me, and I got a shutout. When I was little, hockey wasn’t that hard for me. I don’t know why. I got a bunch of goals when I was little. When I was a little younger they all thought I was just a joke or something. Then I went out there and they were like, whoa.”
Reaghan and her parents and coaches realized in the last year or so that maybe it was time for Reaghan to start playing for a girls’ team.
“The boys are at the age where there is checking, and they’re getting pretty big,” St. John said. “We felt this was the year to move to girls. Not that the girls are easy, they’re just not as hard. At first she really wanted to be involved with checking, but I finally convinced her about the move. She’s very excited to be with the girls.”
Reaghan said she noticed last season that she was getting checked a lot.
“They weren’t calling that many penalties for checking,” Reaghan said. “The girls, they don’t check, and they take the penalties seriously. My mom wanted me to go to the girls’ team because the (boys teams) started checking, and I kind of agreed. I thought it would be fun to check, but when I thought about it I knew it would be kind of hard. I think I’m good where I am now.”
Reaghan’s new team competes in the High Performance Hockey League (HPHL) and has home games in downtown Detroit. The team also plays games in Canada and, according to St. John, is ranked in the top 10 in North America.
Reaghan scored two goals in Little Caesars’ season-opening win Monday night.
“We did good,” Reaghan said. “We played in Tier II and they were a little older than us.”
Reaghan added that one bonus to playing on an all-girls team now is that she gets to dress with the rest of her teammates.
“It’s funny, but I get to actually be in the locker room now,” she said. “Before, I would be in the bathroom or sometimes they would have an extra locker room or a referees’ room.”
Tyler, meanwhile, is set to play for a team in the United States Premier Hockey League this fall, and he plans to play collegiate hockey. It appears that his littler sister isn’t far behind.