I've played many kinds of sports, but I've never tried out underwater hockey, and it sure looks fun!
Underwater hockey is probably destined to swim forever behind ice hockey, field hockey, air hockey, street hockey and - euphemistically - horse hockey. But underwater hockey had the pool to itself over the weekend, when 20 teams from around the country converged on the university for the Underwater Hockey National Championships.
"It's not just a sport, it's a social atmosphere," said Tricia Simon, 22, who came with a team from Michigan State University. "A tournament like this is one big party."
Players wear goggles, snorkels and flippers and use short, curved sticks, usually made of wood or plastic, to maneuver a 3-pound puck along the bottom of the pool. The goals are long and squat, like troughs. There are six players per side but no goalies - it's hard enough to score. Formations and plays are often abandoned as swimmers come up for air, and players diving back into the action might need a moment or two to find the puck, which is coated in pink plastic, and sort out teammates (one team wears white swimcaps, the other wears blue).
In "open" tournaments such as this one, teams are made up of any six people a club can cobble together. Most were coed to varied degrees, and players ranged from teens to veterans and veritable legends in their 50s.
One commonality: Players on every team seemed to know one another. Relationships have formed through years of tournaments. There were group hugs before matches, group chants after them, and few of the 20 teams regarded the actual competition as a priority.
Tags: Underwater | Hockey | Sports