WACO, Texas — Baylor students have worked for months and are now just months away from bringing back a club ice hockey team — but it won’t be easy.
For starters, their “home” rink is in Mansfield – nearly an hour and a half away – and they will have to practice on roller skates on a roller rink in Bellmead. One of their other problems is more common in college students.
“Not having an ice rink here is definitely going to be one of the biggest challenges,” said club president Daniel Atkins. “The second largest will only be funding for our first year. We currently have zero dollars in our bank account.”
Since it is a club sport, the players (who are expected to have both males and females) will have to pay for their own travel, competition fees, equipment and ice age.
As for the prospect of an ice rink closer, they have been approached by an organization that wants to help.
“We’ve been approached by the Dallas Stars and we’ve talked to the city of Waco to try and get a Stars Center here,” said head coach Joseph Crump. “We think this is something great we can do for the Waco community.”
The hockey roots are surprisingly deep on Baylor’s campus. Crump, for example, is a former pro who played at the University of Michigan before injuries ended his career and he signed up for Baylor.
The university’s national recruiting committee, which was established in the past decade (53 percent of this year’s freshman class is from out of state), is also attracting more students from traditional hockey hotbeds. As Eddie Cahill might say while playing Jim Craig in the iconic hockey movie “Miracle,” it’s “a lot of guys from Minnesota and Boston.”
“I think it’s definitely a factor to have those Minnesota kids, those Boston kids,” Crump said. “I mean, hey, we’ve even seen some California kids come in who are pretty good, it seems.”
When they came into their first season, expectations were low.
“When I first started this, I expected that we would hopefully have ten skaters for our first season,” Atkins said.
Instead, they saw an outpouring of interest.
“That’s honestly one of the things that has pushed us the most is more than 70 people signed up,” said Club Vice President Blake Bonner. “Me and the president both have no answer other than God.”
The players and coaches hope they can take advantage of Baylor’s rabid fanbase.
“Hockey is so different from anything Baylor has, especially for the city of Waco,” Crump said. “I think it would be one of the best things we could do for the Baylor community and the Waco community by adding an ice rink and a hockey program here.”
You can follow the team and their fundraisers here.
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