Thursday, February 10, 2011

Boot hockey tradition lives on

By Alex Conover
Sports Editor

When the snow hits hard, they shovel it off and start playing. When the sun goes down, the lights turn on and they keep playing.

It seems like nothing can stop some SMU students from playing boot hockey at an off-campus park behind the pedestrian bridge; in fact, the game has been played for over 20 years.

“My dad, Tom, used to play with his friends all the time,” said Danny Stark. His father attended Saint Mary’s in the early 1980’s. “We made a rink and started carrying on the tradition.”

Stark and his friends play boot hockey up to five times a week. Some are former skaters, some aren’t.

“It’s fun to get out on the ice again,” said Pat Suchla, a former high school hockey player. “Scoring goals is still fun, no matter what sort of net you’re shooting on.”

Kodiak chewing tobacco tins are scattered across the sidelines. A keg of Keystone Light is often plopped in a nearby snow bank. When the day’s games are done, the keg is hauled back to the “Boot Hockey House,” and the party continues.

Despite the lack of skates, injuries do occur. Charlie Williams suffered a laceration below his eye during his first game of the year; it required a trip to the emergency room and resulted in stitches.

“It was worth it,” said Williams. “I’m just glad the stick didn’t hit me in the eye.”

A streetlight was added to their playing surface this year; the players wonder if the city had noticed their affinity for that particular park. Games often stretch well into the night.

“As soon as the first snow hits and the temperature is cold enough, we are pouring water out on the basketball court, getting ready for a new season,” said Stark. “I’m just hoping that our season can stretch into March. We really do love this game.”

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