Growing up in Southern California, Mater Dei High School alum Carlos San Roman played baseball and surfed. He wasn’t a hockey fan and Servite High School was his school’s archrival.
Little did San Roman realize that years later his perspective on both accounts would drastically change.
When San Roman’s 4-year-old daughter, Cierra, told him she wanted to play hockey he thought it was just a fad and her interest wouldn’t last two weeks. However, she traded in her ballet shoes for hockey skates and has been mixing it up on the ice ever since.
Cierra is now a 5-foot, 6-inch, 15-year-old sophomore at Rosary High School and she plays goalie on the all-boys Servite High School hockey club team. Hockey is not a sanctioned CIF sport; therefore San Roman has been able to participate on the Friars team. And her performance has raised eyebrows over the past two seasons.
Servite’s JV coach, Mike Marshal, says she has held her own.
“Cierra’s a fierce competitor, and she battles, and her teammates have rallied around her,” says Marshal. “She started out a little nervous, but she’s more comfortable with every game and she knows she can perform at this level.”
“I went to Mater Dei, and we didn’t like Servite,” says Carlos San Roman. “I was a little nervous about Cierra playing against 17- and 18-year-old boys at first, but I have to admit her teammates have been positive and open-minded. They have been total gentlemen and they live up to the formation standards of leadership, teamwork and character that Servite teaches.”
Back in the 1990s Carlos San Roman worked for the Walt Disney Co. when the corporation acquired the team that would eventually become the Anaheim Ducks. He became a season ticket holder and began taking Cierra to games.
“She would sit on my lap and watch the action back and forth,” says San Roman. “She started skating lessons and wanted hockey equipment, so I told her for every month that she sticks with it, I’ll buy her a piece of equipment.”
The younger San Roman took up her father’s offer and she’s been competing on boys’ teams since she was 7.
“One of my favorite moments this past season was when I played varsity against Orange Lutheran and we shut them out,” says Cierra, who recorded 20 saves in the 3-0 victory. “Sometimes the other teams don’t even know they’re playing against a girl until I take my helmet off after the game.”
Servite’s hockey team is a member of the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League (ADHSHL) and its commissioner, Matt Blanchart, says San Roman has been a positive influence.
“Cierra is one of the biggest advocates for the league,” says Blanchart.
Cierra has played mostly JV games but she has been called up to varsity several times to fill in at goalie. As a freshman, she started a semi-final playoff game against Santa Margarita and, although the Friars lost, 3-2, she stopped 38 shots.
The ADHSHL has grown to 41 teams from 29 schools and is sponsored by the Anaheim Ducks, who provide equipment and financial support for the teams.
“Hockey is a mixed gender sport and there are probably a half dozen girls who are playing in the league,” says Blanchart, who helped start the ADHSHL eight years ago. “The coaches in the league don’t have any anxiety about placing the girls on the ice with the boys. The girls take their regular shifts and there aren’t any special rules governing them.”
“Cierra’s done a fabulous job,” says Servite’s general manager Brian Moran. “She’s helping us grow the sport and we hope more girls start to play.”
San Roman says her Rosary classmates are also very supportive.
“A lot of the girls at school know I play and they think it’s pretty cool,” says San Roman, who holds a 4.17 GPA and is a second degree black belt in tai kwan do. “A lot of them have started to come to the games.”
San Roman has attended numerous hockey camps throughout the country and is considering transferring to a hockey academy in New England to further pursue her career.
“I tell my friends I’m not going to give up,” she says. “I want to prove to everyone that I am meant be here. My goal is to play college hockey.”
“They’re starting to realize that it doesn’t matter who’s behind the mask,” says Carlos San Roman. “If you can play, you’re going to be accepted.”