Optimism Reigns on Co-op Evanston Girls’ Team

By Ross Forman – Hannah Bergom is in her first season as head coach of the co-op Evanston girls’ team, with players representing Evanston Township, Roycemore, North Side College Prep and Francis Parker.

The 16-player roster is its largest in several seasons, including six freshmen who made a “huge impact” and certainly setting up the team for a strong future, Bergom said. In fact, Evanston will only lose three seniors: captain Olivia DiPadova (defense), assistant captain Zoe Durston (defense) and goalie Kate Unterseher.

“We have numbers, so it’s been nice as a coach to make set lines so the girls can get comfortable playing with each other,” Bergom said. “Since so many of our girls this season are underclassman, it is fun to see how these younger girls want to shape the team for when they are upperclassman. Although there are so many new girls, the upperclassmen have done a wonderful job of making everyone feel welcome. They all care about each other, and at the end of the day, they all just love to play hockey. Regardless of what happens in a game, they have a positive attitude.

“It’s difficult to get the girls to see that there will be both good and bad days, (and that) it’s not (if) you win or lose, it’s how you win or lose. You can’t just put on a jersey and call yourself a hockey player. You have to show up and skate, even when you don’t want to. That’s why you get to call yourself an athlete.”

Bergom, 22, lives in Evanston and is a Lab Technician at Vios Fertility Institute. She has been coaching for four years. Last season she was the Evanston assistant coach.

Despite skating in the Founders Division of Metro Girls play, Bergom said Evanston certainly has improved, including their ability to move the puck as a team. “Having everyone at practice allows (us) to work on team systems and show them better ways to move the puck,” she said. “It’s also fun to see what they come up with when I just let them play.”

One of the most memorable games this season was, well, without Bergom, who missed due to a work conflict. At the next practice after the game, forward Eve Thiry skated over to Bergom and said, “Coach Hannah, you know how I always make those blind backhand passes?  Well, last game I looked – and I got an assist.”

Amelia Ann LaPata also scored twice that game.

“Hearing about how well they played from both the other coaches and from the girls themselves was a pretty proud moment for me,” Bergom said. “There are also (memorable) moments, (as simple as) seeing the girls complete a neutral zone regroup for the first time successfully.”

Goaltending has been a key for Evanston, with “phenomenal” goalies: sophomore Molly Daniel (Roycemore) and senior Kate Unterseher (Lincoln Park).

“My three captains are great players who I have relied heavily on this season: senior defenseman Olivia DiPadova, senior defenseman Zoe Durston and junior forward Jenny Maguire. All three attend Evanston Township.

Some of the key newcomers are: sophomore forward Mary Jane Blackmore (ETHS), freshman forward Camryn Faude, freshman Lena Papa, and freshman defenseman Emma Barker.

“The team has improved tremendously (this season), not only in terms of their hockey sense and abilities, but also in how they see themselves and the future of the girls program,” Bergom said.

“Any of the girls could be a breakout player. I truly believe that it just takes hard-work and hours put in both on and off the ice. As the girls make this commitment, they will continue to elevate their game.

“With all of the youth on the team, I am excited to see what the girls bring to the table next year. I’m really excited to see the momentum on the team and in the girls program at Evanston. Our team includes a number of girls who picked hockey up later and don’t roster on a second team, which is unusual in girls high school hockey. I am truly enjoying seeing these girls grow as athletes and individuals. I look forward to working together to continue building the program.”


On The Bench With … Evanston Girls Head Coach Hannah Bergom

The 2020 Stanley Cup Champion Will Be: “I can’t say that I have enough time outside of work and coaching to spend following pro hockey close enough to have much of an opinion. I couldn’t even tell you who can still make playoffs.”
All-time Favorite Chicago Blackhawks Player: “I’m not from Chicago originally, so I can’t say that I am a Hawks fan. Regardless of their season this year I am still a (Minnesota) Wild fan, so I would say Brent Burns.”
Hardest Slapshot on Evanston: Zoe Durston
Most Accurate Shot: Eve Thiry
Fastest Skater: MJ Blackmore
Best Playmaker: Lena Papa
Player Who You Could See as a Coach One Day: Olivia DiPadova


Ross Forman has written about Illinois high school hockey for more than 15 years and is the only sportswriter to have covered Illinois High School hockey every year during that stretch. He played locally and then at Indiana University before becoming a referee. Ross was a referee for the State Championship game several years ago at the United Center. Contact Ross by email at Rossco814@aol.com.



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