Aspen Junior Hockey standouts Martens, Jaworski to continue careers in college
The girls of Aspen Junior Hockey have redefined what is possible in recent years, with undefeated regular seasons, state championships and national tournament appearances. Now, two recent graduates are headed to the next level with those experiences in tow.
“It was a great group of girls. I’m definitely going to miss playing with them. We had a lot of good bonding time and we were definitely very close,” Laney Martens said. “I’m going to miss all the girls that I played with, and not just here in the Aspen valley, but around Colorado. I played with girls in Vail and Steamboat and Summit and all over the place. Those connections I hope can stay with me.”
Martens and Sami Jaworski were both part of many of AJH’s A and AA teams throughout their days at Aspen High School before graduating this past May. Both are now headed to play collegiately at the NCAA Division III level, with Martens off to Lawrence University in Wisconsin and Jaworski bound for Endicott College in Massachusetts.
“I pretty much applied to all schools with hockey, whether it was DIII or just club, because I wanted to play no matter what. It’s just a big part of my life,” Jaworski said. “I’m so excited. The people I’m going to be playing with are amazing. They are so good and I’m going to be challenged a lot, but it’s always good to be challenged.”
The girls enter slightly different situations. Jaworski is joining a strong women’s ice hockey program at Endicott that was 25-2 overall entering the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament in March before the remainder of the season was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic. The program Martens will join at Lawrence is brand new and is scheduled to have its inaugural season this coming school year, should COVID-19 allow it to happen.
Martens hopes to play forward in college, while Jaworski will continue on as a goalie. Martens has also been invited to compete for Lawrence’s softball program.
“I started looking toward the East Coast and touring the schools and none of them really felt like home to me. I was getting recruited by a bunch of schools out there, but none of them really fit into what I wanted,” Martens said, admitting she originally wasn’t keen on going to school in the Midwest. “I really like the school and the feeling it had. I started talking to the coach more and I went to Lawrence for a tour and to talk to the coach and I looked around and felt almost instantaneously at home.”
Jaworski latched onto Endicott not only because of its stellar hockey team — or even its convenient beach access — but also because of its graphic design program, a major she is adamant about pursuing. Martens is tentatively planning a pre-med track at Lawrence.
The two aren’t the only recent AHS graduates set to play college hockey, as A.K. Fuentes is bound for New England College in New Hampshire, another DIII program. Fuentes was not part of the AJH teams with Martens and Jaworski.
Charlotte Howie and Hayley Heinecken were, however, but both have opted to pursue lacrosse collegiately. Howie will play lacrosse at Bowdoin College in Maine, and Heinecken will play at Colorado College. Neither has necessarily ruled out playing some sort of hockey at their respective school.
Whether it’s hockey or lacrosse in college, this group of recent AHS graduates certainly elevated girls hockey in Aspen, something they hope the next group can continue to keep going.
“I’m definitely proud of what we accomplished in my high school career and the team we became,” Martens said. “I’m really proud just knowing we were able to bring in a new aspect of women’s hockey here to our valley and hopefully support the later generations in continuing to play here and, if they want, to move farther on.”
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While the Aspen/Basalt composite mountain bike team couldn’t defend its state championship, it did get a strong showing from its youngest riders this past weekend in the Colorado High School Cycling League finale in Durango.