WACO, Texas – Baylor students have worked for months, and are now just a few months away from bringing back a club ice hockey team – but it won’t come easy.
For starters, their “home” rink is in Mansfield – almost an hour and a half away – and will have to practice on roller blades at a roller rink in Bellmead. One of their other issues is one more common with college students.
“Not having an ice rink here is definitely going to be one of the biggest challenges,” says Club President Daniel Atkins. “The second biggest is just going to be funding for our first year. Our bank account currently has zero dollars in it.”
Being a club sport, the players (of which they expect to have both male and females) will have to pay their own way for travel, league dues, equipment and ice time.
As far as the prospect of a closer rink goes, they have been approached by an organization wanting to help.
“We have been approached by the Dallas Stars, and we have talked to the City of Waco to try and get a Stars Center in here,” says Head Coach Joseph Crump. “We think that is something amazing we can do for the Waco community.”
The hockey roots surprisingly run deep on Baylor’s campus. Crump, for example, is a former pro prospect who played at the University of Michigan before injuries ended his career and he enrolled at Baylor.
The university’s national recruiting board, which has sprung up in the last decade or so (53 percent of this year’s freshman class comes from out of state), also attracts 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 definitely is a factor having those Minnesota kids, those Boston kids,” Crump said. “I mean, heck, we’ve even seen some California kids come in that are pretty good, it seems.”
Coming into their inaugural season, expectations were low.
“When I had first started this, I was expecting to hopefully have ten skaters for our first season,” Atkins said.
Instead, they saw an outpouring of interest.
“That’s honestly been one of the things that has pushed us the most, is that we have had over 70 people sign up,” says Club Vice President Blake Bonner. “Me and the president both have no answer other than God.”
The players and coaches are hoping they can capitalize on Baylor’s rabid fan base.
“Hockey is such a different thing to anything Baylor has – especially to 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 a rink and a hockey program here.”
You can follow along with the team and their fundraisers here.