Flyers proud to partner with University of Delaware’s new women’s NCAA Division I hockey program

Flyers president of hockey operations Keith Jones (right) and University of Delaware director of athletics Chrissi Rawak discuss a new partnership at Saturday's press conference.

      PHILADELPHIA – Women’s collegiate hockey is a growing sport and for proof just look at the recently announced partnership between the Flyers and the University of Delaware’s new NCAA Division I program.

      During Saturday’s press conference at the Wells Fargo Center, both Flyers president of hockey operations Keith Jones and Delaware director of athletics Chrissi Rawak spoke about what this association means for female players and their fans throughout the Delaware Valley.

      As part of both the National Hockey League and the Flyers’ efforts to continue to grow the game to new and diverse audiences, this somewhat unique relationship has taken wing.

      The Blue Hens’ first-ever Division I program is sure to draw an enthusiastic following. The Flyers will support the program’s development through three key pillars of growing the game of hockey, community engagement and developing a world-class women’s ice hockey program through networking and learning opportunities.

      Who knows? There may come a day when Delaware plays one (or more) of its games at the Wells Fargo Center as part of a way to showcase the sport.

      Jones said the Flyers are enthusiastic about this partnership and believe it will have many benefits.

      “This has been an exciting season for our organization,” Jones said. “Not only for our plan on the ice but off the ice as well. This season we’ve made engaging with our fan base and the community a priority and setting a standard for a ‘New Era Orange.’

      “So far, so good. We are extremely proud of the work of our organization. Today we’re taking another step. We’re extremely excited to announce we have partnered with the University of Delaware to support their first-ever NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey program.”

      Delaware plans to begin competing at the Division I level for the 2025-26 season.

      “It’s incredible news on that front,” Jones said. “It’s exciting for our side as well as we want to continue to develop women’s hockey in this area.”

      Rawak sounded equally enthusiastic.

      “We are incredibly excited to be here,” she said. “We are grateful. It has been a tremendous couple months at Delaware. The football team will be joining Conference USA in 2025.”

      Delaware becomes the 45th women’s program to join NCAA competition, with membership in College Hockey America starting in 2025. The Blue Hens have already hired a new coach, Allison Coomey, who takes over after a seven-year stint at Penn State.

      “There’s no doubt in my mind that this partnership will quickly put our program in a position to be successful,” Rawak said.

      The team will play its home games at Fred Rust Ice Arena, which has a seating capacity of about 2,000. That is also where there are plans to put on youth hockey clinics. The Flyers’ community caravan will visit Rust Arena to, in Rawak’s words, “bring the Wells Fargo atmosphere to Rust.”

      Rawak later pointed out Delaware could end up playing teams from Princeton, Penn State and other programs at Wells Fargo Center, possibly in a tournament format.

      And the Blue Hens plan on winning the majority of games.

      “We’re not coming to get a participation trophy,” she said with a laugh.

      As for a projected attendance figure, Jones said, “The sky’s the limit.”

      Rawak added: “I don’t want to limit us. Particularly with how women’s sports are being viewed. I don’t want to ever limit us.”

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About Wayne Fish 2426 Articles
Wayne Fish has been covering the Flyers since 1976, a stint which includes 18 Stanley Cup Finals, four Winter Olympics and numerous other international events.