By JACK VANASSCHE, Editor-in-Chief

The University of Michigan-Dearborn athletics department announced over the summer that it will add women’s ice hockey at the varsity club level beginning in the 2018-19 school year.

UM-Dearborn will join local programs such as Adrian College, Davenport University, Central Michigan University and Grand Valley State University among others in the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA) at the Division I level.

The team will play in the UM-Dearborn Ice Arena inside the Fieldhouse. According to the school, a national search for a head coach is underway.

Athletic Director Matt Beaudry said in a press release that the decision to add a women’s hockey team is exciting for the Wolverines.

“The announcement of adding women’s ice hockey to UM-Dearborn will bring tremendous excitement and value to the campus,” Beaudry said.

“The sport of ice hockey is popular in our region and state, and will provide more opportunities for young women to participate in sport, while furthering their education at UM-Dearborn. We look forward to continuing the momentum and success at UM-Dearborn.”

Chris Haltinner, head coach of the UM-Dearborn men’s hockey team, was also excited.

“Women’s ice hockey at UM-Dearborn will be a tremendous addition for our campus,” he said. “”The growth of the women’s game has been strong in our region. This team will do great things for the community and the university.”

Haltinner’s team finished its season in Columbus, Ohio, in the spring after a win and a loss at the national tournament. The Wolverines men’s team, which has been in existence since the late 1970s, has found success in the Great Lakes Collegiate Hockey League and in the ACHA on a national level.

Women’s ice hockey is varsity program number 14 for UM-Dearborn with the addition of men’s and women’s bowling, which will debut in the same school year as women’s hockey.

The ACHA Division I level saw 23 teams compete in women’s ice hockey last season, and Miami (Ohio) University won the 2016-217 national title.

“We firmly believe participation in sport provide individuals an opportunity to achieve valuable lessons for life upon graduation, while supporting the educational community and the University’s mission,” Beaudry said.