Girl power on ice: Clark Park home to girls hockey league

- There's some serious girl power on the ice in southwest Detroit as young ladies lace up their hockey skates at Clark Park. 

It's a safe and inspiring place for kids to play and grow. It's a place that makes you want to step up and help out.

"My dad told me to play hockey and I was like, OK, that seems fine with me. So I started training," said Miriam Corral.

"We work together, we work hard. Nobody works harder than us," Monica Ayala said.

The map says Clark Park is in southwest Detroit, just off I-75, but spend a little time with Miriam and Monica, and you'll learn that Clark Park is where the improbable becomes possible.

"The majority of our team, I would say 98 percent are Hispanic girls, and their parents, they don't know the game, but they want 'em to play. Very supportive of the game. They want to learn, and the mothers want to learn how to skate, too," said Robert Ayala.

Ayala is a retired Detroit police sergeant who runs the girls hockey program at Clark Park.

"This park, a long time ago, used to have an outdoor rink in the middle of the park, with a little cabin. Over the years, I learned to skate here as a kid," he said.

About 13 years ago, Ayala's granddaughter told him she wanted to play, too.

"We came out and we recruited enough for a team," he said. "This year we've got 22 girls."

Soccer is still way more popular here at Clark Park, which also offers baseball, softball, photography and more academic pursuits.

But Ayala says hockey is growing in popularity.

Miriam says she likes hockey because you can have lots of fun.

"Kids can come and play. You can ice skate around. They can teach you how to stop. You can actually go to hockey games at the Joe Louis Arena," she said.

The two things Ayala worries the most about are the weather and whether there's enough money.

Keeping a regular schedule can get tricky when you've got an outdoor rink, and hockey equipment has never been cheap.

Tops on Ayala's wish list is a set of jerseys for the littlest girls.

With a little help from, well, good folks like you out there in TV land, the players can just concentrate on the game.

If you want to support girls hockey or any of the other great activities at Clark Park, come to the winter carnival, or come to the charity game, where M.L. Elrick will take on his old pal, Mike Rataj. Learn more HERE.

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