Breaking the ice with Amel Yakoub

Madelyn Shapiro

Wilson sophomore Amel Yakoub grew up going to Friday night skating events with her friends. Now, she plays both right wing and defenseman for the Wilson ice hockey team, which was previously composed of all boys.

Yakoub first lived in Maryland, where she began taking ice hockey lessons. She then moved to Virginia in 2013 and joined a boys travel hockey team for which she played for two years.
When Yakoub was researching Wilson before she transferred, she was excited to learn that there was a hockey team. “I heard how fun a high school league was, so I was like, I want to join,” she said. Yakoub then reached out to coach Brian Oakley to ask if he’d let a girl on the team, to which he responded yes.

“It’s like having a bunch of sweaty brothers. They’re pretty entertaining, but will always have your back.” She said that no one has really reacted much to her being the only girl. “I like to check a lot, I’m very physical, so it’s kind of like just having another guy on the team I guess. They’ll hit me back,” Yakoub explained.
A typical practice consists of a skating warm up, followed by incorporating puck handling into skating, passing, and drills. The practices are held from 8:00 to 9:20 p.m. at Fort Dupont Ice Arena in Southeast DC.

In addition to the Wilson team, Yakoub plays on the all-girls Northern Virginia Ice Dogs, a travel team. Yakoub explained that her travel team practices at a “much faster pace [than Wilson’s],” and focuses more on skating rather than puck handling and shooting techniques.
Within the travel league, there is also more focus on college recruitment. “I’m looking at a Division III school because I want to study sports medicine,” explained Yakoub. She added that since her travel team focuses on college recruitment, playing on the Wilson team can be more fun and recreational.

Because Yakoub plays on two teams, the majority of her time is devoted to hockey. The Wilson team practices on Mondays and has games on Fridays, and her travel team practices on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays, with games on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Yakoub emphasized that it’s worth it. “The moment that I step on the ice it’s like all my worries are gone, it’s only me and the game.”