California’s and Nevada’s Authoritative Voice of Ice and Inline Hockey

Lady Ducks using the ‘overall process of the pyramid’ to build success



Trips to Pacific District and USA Hockey Youth Nationals tournaments are nothing new for the Anaheim Lady Ducks.

After all, four of their teams (14U AA and AAA, 16U AA and AAA) are headed to districts in early March in San Jose, and their 19U AAA team is qualified for Nationals.

While that’s exciting, very little of that would be possible without the program’s growth at its youngest levels. This season, the Lady Ducks have a 6U program with eight girls playing and two full 8U teams with 10 girls each.


“That is really the foundation of how programs gain the depth and excellence at the older levels,” Lady Ducks program director Kathy McGarrigle said. “For almost 10 years, we’ve had this 8U foundation. It’s very satisfying to see girls advance all the way to college. It speaks to the overall process of the pyramid.”

When the program began in 1999, the Lady Ducks had 19U and 15U teams as that was the need in Southern California at the time. Before you knew it, a 12U level was added.

“If you build it, they will come,” McGarrigle said. “When Annie (Pankowski) was a Squirt and because of her and her sister Alison and others, we extended it to 10U.

“Two years later, ‘Barnesy’ (Cayla Barnes) was playing 6U Mites with the Jr. Ducks and we looked at her age group and said, ‘Let’s try 8U.’”

Pankowski has represented USA Hockey at every level since her late teens, and Barnes made the U.S. Olympic team that won gold in South Korea this month.

Now, the Lady Ducks have more than a dozen teams with multiple squads at 8U, 10U, 12U, 14U and 16U.

“It starts with getting girls together, making friends and building that rapport with others,” McGarrigle said. “To be able to accomplish that in California is very inspiring.”

— Chris Bayee

(Feb. 22, 2018)