North Shore native Rachel Welch joins Boston Bruins ‘Ice Girls’

By Christopher Hurley
WickedLocal.com
October 28, 2011

Boston Bruins Hockey is more than just about the action on ice these days.

Between all the breakaways and body checks, the atmosphere at the TD Garden remains fully charged, thanks to a dedicated group of young women. It’s a new and exciting arena that Rachel Welch is proud to be a part of. The West Newbury native, Bishop Fenwick graduate and Merrimack College sophomore is the newest member of the Boston Bruins Ice Girls.

One of five rookies to make the team, Welch was chosen from a field of more than 900 applicants over the summer. She’ll spend the winter cheering on Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas and the rest of the defending Stanley Cup champs, in front of sellout crowds of 17,565, on a nightly basis.

“I’m really excited,” said Welch, 19. “I look forward to getting to know the girls and getting more opportunities to interact with the fans. I’m hoping for a great season.”

Lending their support to the Black & Gold since the 2002-03 season, the Bruins Ice Girls have become a familiar fixture around the TD Garden. From handing out rosters, signing autographs and posing for pictures with fans, to revving up the crowd with their ever-popular t-shirt toss during TV timeouts, the Ice Girls always seem to keep the fans on their feet.

“The T-shirt toss is my favorite part,” said Welch. “You go into the stadium, run around and throw T-shirts to the crowd. Some of the girls go on the ice. Right now I’m in the process of getting qualified to go onto the ice, but there is a lot of off-ice interaction that we also do during intermission.”

Welch got her first taste of game action Oct. 6, during a historic opening night ceremony as the Bruins hoisted its 2011 Stanley Cup championship banner to the rafters. It was a moment she’ll never forget.

“Opening night was absolutely amazing,” Welch said. “The ceremony took my breath away. I was so nervous the whole time, but all the fans were really great. It was a different experience, but it was really awesome.”

A diehard hockey fan, Welch first took notice of the Ice Girls while attending her first Bruins game at the TD Garden last season.

“I really didn’t know what they were all about, so I looked into it,” Welch said. “When I found out there were auditions over the summer I couldn’t pass up the opportunity.”

She was called in to tryout for the team over the summer, after the Bruins narrowed the field of 900 applicants to 30 young women. The group was then put through the paces during a challenging audition process, which included an on-camera interview, some modeling and spirited round of Bruins trivia.

The tryouts wrapped up following a long photo shoot, with the team choosing the five top just moments later. Welch was thrilled when she realized she made the cut.

“I was really surprised,” Welch said. “I obviously knew my Bruins trivia, so I wasn’t too nervous about that, but there were a lot of amazing girls there and I’m just really lucky and honored to be on the team.”

According to the Bruins, Welch brought something unique to the table and had the personality that fit well with the rest of the team.

“I think they looked for the all-around American girl,” Welch said. “They didn’t want you to be based so much on modeling, a lot of girls thought it was about modeling, which its not. It’s really about how well you get along with others, your ability to really get into the crowd and make a difference.”

In addition to her duties at the rink, Welch will also be making several personal appearances with the Ice Girls throughout the course of the season.

A lifelong sports enthusiast, Welch is no stranger to athletic endeavors. She played varsity lacrosse and soccer at Bishop Fenwick, while serving as captain of the Crusaders hockey and football cheerleading teams.

“I was really into hockey in high school,” Welch said. “So to be a part of the Ice Girls is definitely something that I was used to.”

Recently crowned National American Miss Massachusetts Teen 2011, the psychology major remains active within her school and community. She is involved with many organizations including St. Jude’s Research Hospital’s awareness and fundraising program. Welch aspires to raise awareness and continue her efforts by creating an organization that promotes teenagers positive self-esteem.

After an uncharacteristically slow 2-4 start, the Bruins bounced back with a vengeance last week bombing the Toronto Maple Leafs, 6-2, Oct. 20. Welch hopes that it’s a sign of things to come.

“That game was absolutely insane,” Welch said. “They had so much energy on the ice, which was really good. At the beginning of the season I felt a lot for them, because they didn’t have that [break] in between seasons, but I think they’re getting into it now. I hope the best for them this year. Maybe we’ll see another Stanley Cup.”

And the Bruins can count on Welch to be cheering them on every step of the way.

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