MANCELONA — Dakota Derrer won’t have to be one of the boys anymore.
But now she’ll have to resist the urge to hit like one.
The Mancelona native and Bay Reps defender has accepted a scholarship to play for the Syracuse women’s ice hockey team.
“When I was younger, I was always told I couldn’t play boys hockey and that I shouldn’t even be playing,” Derrer said. “But I proved myself. And I finally have a shot to show everybody how good I am.”
She played in 77 varsity boys hockey games the past three seasons, missing only two contests.
Having never played on a girls’ team before, it will be different playing a game where she can’t be hit.
“Or hit someone,” she laughed.
Lake Superior State men’s hockey coach Jim Roque saw Derrer in action when the Reps played Sault Ste. Marie in December. Roque’s daughter, Abby, plays for Soo High.
“He knows Debbie and Doug — Dakota’s parents — and he said something to them about what her plans were for next year,” Reps coach Todd Spaulding said.
Before that, much of Derrer’s college plans revolved around softball, where she’s also a standout player. She set the national record for triples in a season with 20 as a sophomore.
Roque threw Derrer’s name around to some acquaintances in women’s college hockey. One was Syracuse head coach Paul Flanagan.
Not long after, Flanagan flew assistant coach Brendon Knight to Michigan for a Division 1 playoff game between the Reps and Traverse City West. Knight had plenty of time to evaluate Derrer, as the game was one of the longest in state and national high school history, stretching into seven overtimes.
“They got their money’s worth,” Derrer joked.
“I talked to him afterwards, and he was very happy with what he saw,” Spaulding said. “They said they’re looking for a defenseman that can add some toughness to the team. I think they’re very excited about that. And I know how hard she works, so I think she’ll just continue to get better.”