Fox has raised the bar for Titans
Emily Fox used to sit in the stands and dream about playing high school hockey. Unlike many girls who came before - many who followed the familiar path of playing with boys and then seeing the opportunities run out - Fox's dreams had a destination.
She was in sixth grade when Warwick's co-op girls' hockey program was founded. Her older sisters, Grace and Margaret, were on the first team, and her father helped coach.
Girls' hockey was alive.
The players in those first seasons were the pioneers. They had to fight just to get the program on the ice. Then there were the joiners, the kids who gave hockey a shot and helped steadily build the program.
Then Emily Fox came along, and the program got its star.
Now a senior at Toll Gate, Fox is the first player in Warwick girls' hockey history to reach 100 career points. She hit the milestone on Saturday against the Smithfield/North Smithfield co-op team.
It was a special moment for Fox and for the program, which got another reminder of how far girls' hockey in Warwick has come. In their seventh year, the Lady Titans now play in Division I and they're emerging as a legitimate state championship contender.
Fox is just happy to be along for the ride.
"This whole team has been a big part of growing up for me, and I'm just so happy that we're doing so well this season," Fox said. "It's awesome."
Fox and her classmates were some of the first girls' hockey players who could imagine themselves in a Warwick uniform. Before that, private schools or prep schools were the only option, and girls' hockey only became a Rhode Island Interscholastic League sport in 2002.
Fox has a unique perspective. She remembers when Warwick didn't have a high school team. Then she witnessed the birth of it in person.
"I owe it to them," she said of her sisters and their teammates on the first Lady Titans team.
Fox could dream - and then take steps in that direction. She started playing for the Rhode Island Express in eighth grade and she credits much of her success to what she learned there from legendary former Brown University coach Digit Murphy.
When she got to high school, she joined the Titans and contributed right away, scoring three goals and dishing out four assists as a freshman.
Since then, she and the Titans have teamed up on a meteoric rise. They set a new program record for wins last season, moved to D-I for this year and are primed to contend.
Fox has been there every step of the way.
"Emily's been the backbone of the team since I've been here, not just in her points production, but her positive attitude and her work ethic," said head coach Dave Tibbetts.
Fox knew she was at 97 points heading into Saturday's game. The Smithfield/North Smithfield team has been struggling this year, so the match-up with them looked like a good chance to reach the benchmark. Sure enough, Fox tallied five points, and the celebration was on.
For Fox, though, the milestone is just a small part of the program's overall success.
"It's exciting, but it's also a great time to get it because we're having a great year and we're really excited about playoffs," she said.
The Lady Titans clinched the third seed and will play Mount St. Charles in the semifinals. They've beaten the Mounties once this year and took them to overtime in another game. They've got a shot at glory.
It's just what Fox dreamed of.
She knows a new generation is watching now, kids who don't realize that girls' hockey is new. Even some of the freshmen on her team grew up in a different girls' hockey world.
"It's always exciting to hear little girls saying, 'When I grow up, I'm going to be on that team,'" she said. "Girls' hockey has grown so much. It's just phenomenal."
Emily Fox is Warwick's first 100-point scorer.
She's thrilled that she won't be the last.
William Geoghegan is the sports editor at the Warwick Beacon