When Carlie Van Tassel was in kindergarten, she saw Martin Brodeur playing goal for the New Jersey Devils on television. She was quickly hooked on hockey.
She talked her mother into signing her up for a rec team at Skylands Ice World with boys, hoping to “just stand in the net.” Van Tassel played just one game as a goalie before switching to forward, but her hockey career has never waned.
Van Tassel had skated for hours on the synthetic ice at the Hockey Farm in Oak Ridge before joining a boys club team at age 10. She shifted to all-girls teams when checking became dangerous, going to nationals with the Montclair Blues twice in the past three years.
But Vernon High School (Sussex County, New Jersey) doesn’t offer girls ice hockey, so Van Tassel is skating with the boys again.
“She’s grown up with these guys,” Vikings coach Ray Zimmerman said. “They all know her. It’s not like, ‘Oh, there’s a girl on the team,’ like she just came out of nowhere. … I don’t really acknowledge it.”
A senior right wing and co-captain, Van Tassel is the only girl on the Vikings hockey team. But when injuries claimed many of her teammates last winter, Van Tassel got more ice time than almost anyone.