Teaming Up for Wyoming: Glenrock, Douglas duo lead Team Wyoming 14U girls national bound squad at New York tourney

Courtesy photo

14-year-old Glenrock athlete Jade McWilliams and her Team Wyoming 14U AA national bound ice hockey squad captured second place in New York Jan. 14.

RJ Morgan, sports editor


    Macie Baker and Jade McWilliams are from rivalling Converse County schools but they share the same talent and are family on the ice. That sisterhood has allowed them to blossom as standout hockey players for the Douglas IceCats 14U as well as the only local talents on the prestigious Team Wyoming 14U AA national-bound squad.

The eighth-grade tandem is always looking for a challenge just like Team Wyoming 14U so they skated across the country last weekend to find it. They found it Jan 12-14 in Glenn Falls, New York at the Northstar Winter Classic where they took on some of the toughest competition around.

The best 14U talent in Wyoming proved they are among the best in the nation as they beat teams from four different states en route to capturing second place. They beat New Jersey Bandits 9-0, Essex Vermont 3-0, Darien IceCats (Connecticut) and Erie Lady Jr. Otters (Pennsylvania) 9-1. The only defeat was in the finals against the defending national champions Adirondack (New York) 3-1.

Baker, who was born and raised in Douglas, and McWilliams, a lifelong Glenrock athlete, live and breath hockey. This kind of challenge was exactly what they wanted regardless of long it took to get there.

Their sights are on winning a national championship in Iowa and the East Coast trip proved they are ready for that test. It also gave them a preview of what’s to come.

“Coach wanted us to play teams we will see at nationals,” Baker said.

So, Team Wyoming went right after the best and played in a tournament that included the defending national champs to see exactly how they stack up.

“It’s exciting to play higher level hockey outside of the Rocky Mountain Region and play girls you have never played. You just don’t know what you’re going to get,” Baker said.

Baker, McWilliams and Team Wyoming 14U have proven they are ready for the big stage. In 16 games this season, the team has outscored opponents a stunning 89-8 and rode a 15-game win streak, 11 of which were by shut out.

Success is the reward for hard work and the two Converse County standouts. They have skated into rewarding careers on the ice by focusing on their favorite sport their entire sports careers.

McWilliams, who has played wing center and defense, was introduced to the game by the urging of her dad.

“I wasn’t really planning on playing hockey,” said McWilliams, who was playing soccer at the time. “I just remember my dad coming home one day and telling me I’m playing hockey.” 

She was 8 years old at that time. Her coaches taught her to skate and how to play – the rest is history.

Baker has a little more ice in her veins. She’s a lifelong IceCat and has played nearly as long as she has walked, learning to skate at age four by grandma and playing by age 5.

“My grandma introduced me to hockey and I loved it,” Baker remembered.

Baker has played among the elite for a few years now and has lined up at center forward and defense. She took her talents to the next level played on Team Wyoming 12U at just 10 years old.

“I love to skate and I love the speed of the game. I love it and play all year around,” Baker said.

McWillams and Baker are in the midst of their current season with the Douglas IceCats 14U. The team is currently 6-6-1 overall and has six more games remaining before the state tournament March 1-3 in Cody.

The hometown girls will also continue working out with Team Wyoming 14U. The season with the state team will last much longer as they keep their eyes on a national prize.

Since the team consists of the best talent in Wyoming, practices can be tricky this time of year. They meet at various locations to practice, often times Casper, to continue building continuity and sharpening their skills.

Playing on Team Wyoming has huge benefits such as practicing against teammates of equal talent and getting to play in surrounding states and competing against the best possible competition.

The amount of travel required to play at the elite level also brings the athletes together as friends, on and off the ice. So, between games and even days on the road such as in New York last week, the team remains a team when the puck doesn’t drop.

“We do team bonding at all tournaments. Here in New York, we went to a restaurant called Go Play With Your Food. They had tons of board games. You pick what you want to play, grab a table, order food and play while you eat,” Baker shared.

Now that they are back from their successful run, the Converse County duo and Team Wyoming 14U will practice and get even better before taking down some more out-of-state foes

They will next play at the large Boulder Breakout on Presidents Day weekend in Boulder, Colorado. It’s busy life on the road for star hockey players.

“We practice as much as we can around the state during most of the year and one weekend a month during the summer.”

The plan is to keep this team together as it grows in age groups and keep this amazing unit together for years, wins and trophies to come.

Baker is the daughter of Holley and Blaine Underberg and has three sisters, two of whom also play hockey. McWilliams is the daughter of Jessica and Zeb and has one sibling who also completes on the frozen pond.


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