Roller hockey put on ice

Dave Yochum

Plans for Kent club sport are frozen

Call it the lost club of Kent State.

The followers of a sport have seen its support and organization slowly fade away like last year’s NHL season – only these players never returned to lace up their skates.

Back when it began in the fall of 1996, the Kent State Roller Hockey Club was formed primarily as a pick-up opportunity for any roller hockey players in the Kent area. By 2000, the club had expanded into an “A Team” and “B Team,” complete with a home rink in Parma, jerseys, a Web site, statisticians and even a team mascot.

Roller hockey was beginning to gain momentum as a legitimate club at Kent State, playing games in the Mid-Atlantic Region of the Collegiate Roller Hockey League (CRHL) and continuing play in the Eastern Collegiate Roller Hockey Association (ECRHA) until the end of the 2002 season. After 2002, however, the Kent State Roller Hockey Club vanished.

It disappeared – blades frozen in time.

And like sunny winter days in Northeast Ohio, roller hockey games on campus have since been few and far between.

A number of students have offered explanations for the total disappearance of the sport at Kent State, beginning with poor awareness of the game.

“I’d say people’s awareness of the roller hockey in the Kent area is non-existent,” said junior marketing major Noah Lohr. “I would have an easier time teaching the laws of thermodynamics to a Kent State student than trying to explain what icing is.”

Some cite the lack of facilities on campus as the main reason roller hockey has been unable to blossom in Kent.

“They don’t let you skate on the indoor rink in the bottom of the Rec, and all the tennis courts have ‘no skating’ signs posted,” said freshman Ryan Schneider.

As an architecture and environmental design major, Schneider believes the lack of a proper venue hurts roller hockey more than anything else.

In the warmer months, Schneider used an open tennis or basketball court and an empty trash can to get his make-shift hockey fix. Realistically, though, he admits the conditions were less than ideal.

“Playing hockey on a basketball court is fun for a little while, but you get tired of having to chase the puck into the grass every time someone misses a pass.”

Until Kent State budgets an outdoor roller hockey rink – something larger schools like Penn State already have two of – students have zero options when it comes to finding a useable space to shoot around.

Although the Student Recreation and Wellness Center offers numerous facilities with clubs for almost every sport, roller hockey effectively missed the goal when it comes to earning a place to play and maintaining a recreational league.

Additionally, past managerial decisions could have tarnished the sport, for problems may have plagued the original roller hockey club just before it went under.

Rebecca Breitel, adviser for the National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association in which Kent State was a member, shared that the Kent team suddenly dropped out of the NCRHA without much of an explanation after the 2002 season was complete.

“It’s not documented as to why the roller hockey club did not return (after 2002),” said Breitel, “but it was conveyed to us that there had been looming issues of the club mismanaging their financials and receiving a school discipline, thus leading to a loss of leadership and interest in remaining a club.”

Greg Ross, associate director of member and guest services, said the reason the roller hockey club no longer exists is two-fold.

“First, the managers of the team stopped fundraising (so the club overspent – a sport club violation), and then they got into trouble for traveling without permission (which is a major sport club violation),” Ross said in an e-mail. “Second, since the club’s suspension for those violations, there just hasn’t been the interest by anyone to re-start the club.”

Greg Bailey, regional club coordinator, remembers when Kent State had both a roller hockey club and popular floor hockey intramural, but he, too, said disciplinary action taken against roller hockey, along with a combination of lack of interest and travel issues, could have helped the Kent State Roller Hockey Club dig its own grave three years ago.

“Clubs have disciplinary actions taken against them because they aren’t following the policies and procedures set out by our club handbook,” said Bailey. “Kent losing its roller hockey club probably had a lot to do with procedural problems and travel problems. Facility space was always an issue because we just don’t have the court size to accommodate roller hockey – the indoor area we have isn’t large enough for a collision sport like roller hockey and the surface isn’t conducive with roller blades.”

Bailey also said restarting the club wouldn’t be very difficult if students want to give roller hockey another try. The money is there, but support, responsibility and time would play major factors in roller hockey making a permanent comeback on campus.

“Each club is allocated a small amount of money to help take care of expenses, usually around $1,000 to $1,200 per club,” he explained. “The allocation amount depends on a lot of things, such as the positive image the club can bring to the school, fundraising initiatives and the structure of the program.”

The $1,000 to $1,200 Bailey mentioned doesn’t come quickly, though.

“Startup clubs are not eligible for allocation for one year until they can prove that they can be financially independent, even if there were no allocation,” Bailey said. “The club also needs a university adviser, the managers need to attend the monthly meetings and maintain an affidavit, complete the paperwork, and then they can be considered for allocation.”

Until the club registration process is completed, Bailey said a roller hockey club would be given an “interest group” status label. If necessary, that label can be attached for over a year if the club fails to make significant progress in terms of organization and funding.

Assuming finances and organization can be ironed out, Kent State could be eligible to join the Midwest Collegiate Roller Hockey League as early as next year, where the team would compete against the likes of Ohio State and MAC rivals Miami of Ohio and Western Michigan.

If students are really serious enough about roller hockey, sophomore technology major Jason Barr said he doesn’t believe there would be a problem organizing the club and getting money to rejuvenate roller hockey.

“We are college kids and not a lot of us have money, but I imagine people that love the game enough would pay up,” Barr said.

To get an idea of just how many students like Barr would be interested in the sport, Recreational Services will offer a sign-up sheet on their Web site for students who would like to be contacted about re-forming a roller hockey club. Those interested should visit and click on the sports clubs page for more information.

However, only time will tell whether Kent’s lost club can be found once again, or if Kent State Roller Hockey will continue to be kept on ice.

Contact features correspondent Dave Yochum at [email protected].