Roller Hockey hopes to expand with Saturday morning games

Combine 20 men, some in-line skates and an empty parking lot on a Saturday morning, and you get Nolan Garrity’s Roller Hockey team.

“Everybody has a blast,” said Garrity, president of the USU Roller Hockey club. A senior majoring in psychology, he’s passionate about his favorite sport. “I think it takes a little bit more skill than other sports. You’re on your feet and you have to get a ball into a small net. It’s really challenging and fast paced,” he said.

“It’s just fun,” said Parker Allen a junior majoring in business,. “You can move fast, and it’s not as much work as running everywhere.”

Seeing the club at Day on the Quad last spring, Allen, got his friends together and signed up. “I played a ton when I was a little kid. We played at a sports court all day in summer,” he said. “I hadn’t played for years, but we loved it.”

Stemming from ice hockey, roller hockey got an official set of rules in 1940, according to the USA Roller Sports official website. Although the stick and ball sport didn’t catch on until after World War II, its popularity spread across the United States especially in the early ‘90s with the improvement of in-line skates. Along with a surge of followers came the first World Inline Roller Hockey Championship.

“You wear less padding and It’s not as physical as ice hockey,” Allen said. “You can make contact but you’re not there to hit people. It can be really aggressive and competitive, but it can be nice.”

Still in its infancy, USU’s Roller Hockey Team was officially created in 2009 by Garrity’s brother Keegan. Advertising through KSL and Craigslist, the brothers recruited more than 50 people, 10- 20 of which will play on any given Saturday.

“There are a lot of people who played as a kid. You can pick it up right away,” Garrity said.

Garrity, like many hockey players, was introduced to the sport as a child. Growing up in Portland, Ore., he first picked up a stick at 7 and has been playing off and on since. When he got to USU and realized that there was no official team, he said that he just started to play. Even before they started a club, the Garrity brothers were starting pick-up games.

“We were already playing around Logan,” he said.

Although he didn’t start playing until this fall, Allen said he has seen growth since the club began.

“Last year they were just trying to get started,” he said. In order to boost attendance at games, this year the club heads started to help club members find equipment.

“It’s pretty consistent and organized.  They’ll make sure you have wheels. If you give them the money, they’ll order it. Sometimes they’ll provide equipment,” he said.

At this time, the club doesn’t play any outside teams, but Allen hopes that will change. “We want to work it up to having certain teams. We just don’t have the numbers.”

Garrity said that sometimes potential players avoid the club because of lack of experience or equipment.

“I encourage people to come out,” he said. Although the price of padding and skates can take a toll on a tight college budget, secondhand stores, such as D.I., often have skates for under $10.

Some other reasons people avoid the pasttime are early mornings and cold weather.

“I would think when it is warmer it’s easier to wake up and we have more people playing,” Allen said. “They don’t know the turnout, so they don’t want to show up.”

Both this year and in the future, Garrity and Allen hope to see the club expand and thrive.     “I want it to become something where you bring your own team.” Allen said. “People will take it more seriously. With a schedule, it will work out a lot better.”

The group plays games on Saturday mornings at 9. Depending on the weather and season, locations vary. For more information visit schoolyardpuck.com.

–  allee.evensen@aggiemail.usu.edu

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