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Adilene Tamayo remembers when her fourth grade daughter Aubrie Vargas came to her and said she wanted to learn how to play ice hockey. 

“It was a little bit nerve-wracking at first,” Tamayo said. “I had never played before, so it was something new for us. But I was excited for her.” 

Aubrie is part of a group of 17 girls from Richman Elementary in Fullerton who took part in the inaugural session of FLY HER WAY, a collaborative initiative between the Anaheim Ducks S.C.O.R.E (Scholastic Curriculum of Recreation & Education) Program, The Rinks and the Anaheim Lady Ducks hockey club that connects girls ages 4-12 with the opportunity to try hockey in a fun, supportive and inclusive environment.  

Aubrie and her classmates hit the ice at The Rinks-KHS every Monday for eight weeks last fall for LEARN HER WAY presented by 24 Hour Fitness, the first part of FLY HER WAY’s two-part program where participants receive basic skating skills under the coaching guidance of The Rinks staff and Anaheim Lady Ducks players. LEARN HER WAY is free of charge to participants and includes a full set of loaner equipment. 

“I never knew how to skate, so that was brand new to me,” Aubrie said. “I love to be with my friends because they help me be more confident on the ice.”

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As a longtime Ducks S.C.O.R.E Program partner, Fullerton School District made the commitment to offer the FLY HER WAY sessions available to Richman Elementary students as an afterschool program by providing bus transportation for the girls to and from the rink each week. 

After completing the LEARN HER WAY session, Aubrie and her classmates moved on to the program’s second eight-week session, PLAY HER WAY presented by Pacific Premier Bank, where the on-ice instruction advances to include two one-hour sessions per week of basic hockey skills and gameplay scenarios in alignment with USA Hockey’s American Development Model (ADM). Participants’ registration fee includes a voucher for a full set of new hockey gear. 

Once Aubrie began learning some basic puck and stick handling skills, she fell in love with the sport even more. 

“I love to score goals, and I enjoy skating around and jumping over obstacles,” Aubrie said. “My balance and my skills are a lot better.” 

Aubrie’s classmate Zoe Macias was also excited to learn how to skate and play hockey. 

“What I really enjoy about the second session (PLAY HER WAY) is the obstacles we go through and learning how to skate backwards and scoring goals,” Zoe said. “I love trying new things and using my body.” 

For Tamayo, having the gear and transportation provided by the Ducks and Fullerton School District for Aubrie has made all the difference. 

“They take (the students) and bring them back, and I just pick her up from school,” Tamayo said. “It’s a great opportunity, especially being able to get the free gear. We can’t afford that extra cost, so I appreciate that a lot.” 

Richman Elementary PE teacher Art Villasenor serves as the afterschool program aide that accompanies the girls to rink each session, and from the first week of LEARN HER WAY, he could see their interest in learning to play hockey. 

“The girls are energized, they’re excited, and they’re eager to get there,” Villasenor said. “They want to be on the ice right away.” 

Villasenor is also the assistant coach for Richman’s fourth grade street hockey team through the Ducks S.C.O.R.E Street Hockey Program, an initiative that utilizes physical education curriculum and street hockey equipment provided for free to participating schools as a way to introduce the sport. The program reaches more than 11,000 students across Southern California annually. 

Villasenor quickly learned one of the benefits of having his students participate in the FLY HER WAY program is that several of those same girls were inspired to play for Richman’s street hockey team – and they all brought their ice hockey skills with them. 

“The ice hockey inspired me to do street hockey because I was really in love with hockey,” said Richman fourth grader Mia Acosta. “So I tried out for the street hockey and I got in. It’s really fun. I really like FLY HER WAY because it inspired me to be a part of hockey.” 

Added Richman classmate Delilah Coronel, “I was first interested in ice hockey because I love ice skating and I love hockey, and so I thought, why don’t I just play ice hockey? And now I also get to help my other teammates in playing the street hockey games.” 

As part of Fullerton School District, Richman’s fourth grade street hockey team participates in the district’s annual Fullerton Street Hockey Tournament where they play against other Fullerton elementary teams in preparation for the Ducks S.C.O.R.E Shootout Street Hockey Tournament held each spring at Honda Center.

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At this year’s S.C.O.R.E Shootout held earlier this month, Richman’s team made their first appearance in the tournament’s quarterfinals where they lost to fellow Fullerton school Pacific Drive Elementary in a tight contest, 3-4. Despite the defeat, Richman’s newest female hockey players were significant contributors to the team’s success.

“Those girls when they competed at our tournament, it was markedly different in their confidence and their skill level and the growth with their team play,” said Fullerton Street Hockey Director, Alison Garcia. “Their skill level had improved so much, and I 100% attribute that to FLY HER WAY hockey and those girls developing that fearlessness when they are playing.”

Villasenor is also seeing how the girls’ newfound confidence on the ice is impacting them not only athletically, but academically as well.

“It’s a huge motivator,” Villasenor said. “In the classroom, the teachers give me feedback that the girls are more attentive and more involved. And it makes it easy for me to choose the (street) hockey team for that season because they have that experience.”

Mia’s mother, Mayra Acosta, has seen her daughter come out of her shell since participating in FLY HER WAY.

“She was nervous at first, but definitely excited,” Acosta said. “She was a shy girl, but going into FLY HER WAY, she really opened up. She’s more involved now. We are so grateful, and we love being part of it.”

Now that the girls have completed both sessions of the FLY HER WAY program, they have the opportunity to join Lady Ducks in Training, the next step in the girls hockey development pathway that provides the comprehensive skills development needed before joining a team.

Mia is already enrolled in the Lady Ducks in Training program, and her classmates Zoe, Aubrie and Delilah all have interest in taking that next step as well.

“She’s really enjoying it,” said Tamayo of Aubrie. “So I think we will keep going and see how far it takes us.”

For more information on FLY HER WAY, visit  

For more information on the Anaheim Ducks S.C.O.R.E. Program, visit