WATCH: Washington Pride gives girls a place to play in DC

Thanks to the Pride, Gianna Meloni and many others have been able to pursue their passion for hockey close to home.

The Washington Pride is a U19 traveling women’s hockey team playing out of Rockville, MD. The Pride was founded in the mid-90’s by Kush Sidhu, a former assistant coach at Northeastern University and development coach with USA Hockey, after he moved the the Washington area and noticed a lack of women’s hockey programs. Because Washington is a “non-traditional” area for the sport, the Pride gives girls the opportunity to travel to different markets and play hockey at an elite level.

The Pride play in the Junior Women’s Hockey League (JWHL), founded by Sidhu and Bill Driscoll of the North American Hockey Academy in 2007, which consists of 10 clubs playing across the United States and Canada. The JWHL was the first “major junior” style league for women in the U.S., giving young female hockey players the opportunity to develop into collegiate-level athletes. Since its inception, the Washington Pride has had over a hundred alumni go on to play collegiate hockey at the Division-I and Division-III levels, pushing D.C. into spotlight for women’s hockey development.

Gianna Meloni, a senior goalie on the Pride, was named the JWHL Goaltender of the Year this season. In 23 starts this season, Meloni posted a 0.950 SV% and a 1.79 GAA, helping the Pride to a third place finish in the league. Meloni has committed to play hockey at Yale University, and will suit up for the Bulldogs in the fall.