There's no question Shelby Herrington can play the sport of hockey. It's just a matter of which team she should play for.
That is now in the hands of a Merrimack County Superior Court judge who has to decide if the junior should play for the boys' or girls' hockey team at Bishop Brady High School of Concord.
While some local coaches said she should be allowed to finish out her career with the boys, they also think that in the future, players should be required to play against their own gender if the opportunity is available.
"In the long run, it would be nice to have some of these girls around to play girls," said Hanover coach John Dodds.
Dodds has coached the Hanover girls' squad since 1987 and says the Marauders are the oldest publicly funded girls' hockey program in the country. He said he feels Herrington could benefit by being allowed to remain with the boys' team, but also said his league needs to flourish with the best talent available.
Herrington, who is considered one of the best female players in the state, is currently a member of the boys' hockey team. But that is being challenged by the NHIAA, which wants her to play for the cooperative girls' squad the school has with Trinity of Manchester. It has become an issue because this is the first year there is a varsity girls' program at the school. She has played for the varsity boys' program the past two seasons.
Stacy Boudrias is coach of the girls' team at Concord, where there are both boys' and girls' teams. She agrees with Dodds that Herrington should be allowed to play with the boys' team, but a line needs to be drawn somewhere.
"I think girls should play (against girls) at schools where there is a girls' team available," Boudrias said.
Far more schools offer boys' hockey (49) than girls' hockey (14).
There has been one other girl who played for a boys' team at a school that had a girls' program. That was Danielle DiCesare, who attended St. Thomas Aquinas of Dover and played for the Saints boys' team her senior year during the inaugural season of varsity girls' hockey in the state. St. Thomas has a cooperative team with Dover.
Peter Wotton is the athletic director at Dover and a member of the NHIAA hockey committee. He also played and coached hockey in his career and lends a unique perspective.
"As a hockey person and a past hockey coach, I don't understand the need to play for a boys' team when there is a girls' team," Wotton said.
DiCesare played for four years at Princeton University and is one of many girls who have played on boys' teams in the state. Other notables who played on boys' teams before there was a girls' league are Tara Mounsey of Concord, and Andrea Berlin and Sadie Wright-Ward, both of Oyster River of Durham.