As her coach would say, Elizabeth D’Ginto would fool people off the ice with her play.
When the normally quiet senior puts on her pads, laces up her skates and pulls on her jersey, she becomes a whole, new person.
“There is such a difference between the two,” said Downingtown West head coach Robert Fleming. “You look at her and she’s about 90 pounds soaking wet – she’s just this tiny, little, intelligent and articulate young woman. If you put a pair of skates on her and a helmet, she’s a beast.”
That’s one of the reasons why D’Ginto is named the 2015-16 Girls Varsity Player of the Year.
“She has tremendous vision, incredible hands and skating ability that would rival anybody in the girls and boys leagues,” Fleming said. “She transforms into this incredible athlete.”
D’Ginto, though, is modest when it comes to her success this season and being named the Player of the Year.
“It’s awesome and an honor,” she said. “I couldn’t have done it without the team, though. We have a lot of good underclassmen coming up – seventh graders and eighth graders. Having them on the team just makes everyone better.”
But Fleming is quick to point out all the good D’Ginto does on and off the ice for the team.
“She is one of the biggest supports of the Downingtown West program,” he said. “She is at every fundraising event, trying to rally girls at school to join – everything that we have to do with growing the program, you can count that Liz will be there. She’s a staunch advocate of ice hockey in general.”
What’s more amazing to the coach is the fact that she is doing this when she’s a senior when she could be more focused on other important things, such as graduation and college.
“What’s she’s doing is selfless,” he said. “It’s not going to help her because she’s graduating, but she has been there for every single event that we have had. She clearly is respected amongst her peers and teammates.”
The Downingtown West team had a successful season, going 12-4-1 and finishing third overall.
The Whippets made a run in the playoffs before falling in the semifinals to Lansdale Catholic.
“We were a young team, but we made it really far,” D’Ginto said. “Hard work and determination will really pay off in the end, especially for the young kids next year and the years to follow.”
D’Ginto, who was an alternate captain this season, totaled 51 points in 17 games, second only to Abby Shows of Garnet Valley.
However, Fleming believes she could have had more points if it wasn’t for the fact that she is also a selfless player on the ice.
“She probably could have doubled that, but she dished the puck off more times than not in most cases,” he said. “I feel like all the other seniors I have had in the past shortchanged me compared to what I got out of Liz. I feel like they owe me more. I don’t know that I’ll ever have that level of comfort again, and I have some great players on the team.”
That level of commitment is something Fleming believes will help the program in the future, even when she’s no longer a part of the team.
“I fully expect that because of what she helped us achieve, that the program is going to continue to grow and attract more talented players in the future,” he said. “Her leadership is second to none.”
With graduation quickly approaching, D’Ginto plans to continue her education in college and also keep playing hockey as well.
Runner-up: Kaelen Speck, Unionville