Truman State University has established a roller hockey club and traveling team that competes against other schools.
Team captain Mark Hogan said the process started with a series of pick-up games at the Student Recreation Center a couple years ago. He said he started the chartering process to establish the club with the Union and Involvement Services when there were enough guys showing interest to form an actual team.
Truman had a hockey team as late as 2007, but as interest faded the sport struggled to stay on campus.
“It definitely offers a hockey program we haven’t had in a long time,” Hogan said. “It offers a nice, new opportunity, especially with St. Louis becoming such a big hockey city after the Stanley Cup win.”
Team member Matthew Redfering explained that a major motivation for forming an official club was preserving designated hockey time at the Rec Center. Redfering said he pushed the group further to join a league.
The U&I required the club to create a constitution, consistently update the roster and formally pick a faculty adviser.
Hogan said the community around this hockey club is diverse. Players range from students to faculty and staff, and even some Kirksville residents.
Political science professor Michael Rudy is one of the faculty members that occasionally joins the group to play hockey. When the group needed an adviser, they set their sights on the former college hockey athlete.
“The motivation to organize was to get more opportunity to play at better times,” Rudy said. “The U&I motivated them to organize to get better times and they never, I don’t think, would have been a competitive team that plays other schools without that.”
While he hasn’t laced up the skates yet this semester, Rudy said he is looking forward to the chance of playing with the group again.
With a new sport option on campus, Rudy said there is an opportunity for students, faculty and staff to join a community and get some exercise, both of which are good for mental health.
Rudy said he doesn’t see his role as preserving the club, so he is interested to see how long the team will be around. As an adviser, Rudy said he signs the necessary paperwork and answers any questions the group might have about running an organization.
Redfering has been with the club since his freshman year at Truman and helped with the clubs chartering process. Redfering said anyone can join the club, they just have to put the work in and show up.
“There are a lot of Truman students who are Blues fans, especially with how this past season went for them,” Redfering said. “You can see it walking around campus on game days and stuff. That’s how a lot of the people in the club are — they’re just like, ‘We love this sport, we love to watch it, but we’ve never played.’”
Redfering, who has the most experience playing hockey on a team, said he hopes to continue with where the team is going now. Despite more people joining this year, Redfering said he wants to work on growing the club and getting more people in the mix.
The club also joined the National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association this fall, competing in its first tournament just a few weeks ago.
Hogan said the first tournament was a lot of fun and a good experience for the team. With four games in one day, Hogan said the guys were playing well against the established teams.
“It was a lot considering we’ve only played like pick-up games beforehand,” Hogan said. “By game four it was pretty tiring. We held our own and ended up beating Illinois State [University], which has had an established team for a number of years now.”
Redfering said the team placed third in its pool of competition, which he said he was happy with. Truman was the only team to score against Lindenwood University, which Redfering said has one of the best roller hockey programs in the nation.
The season runs throughout the school year, Redfering said, so fall and spring competitions are in the same season. With it being the team’s first year as a club, it doesn’t have funding from the Funds Allotment Council yet, so traveling is more difficult.
Truman is an affiliate chapter this year, Hogan explained, which means it has the ability to play as many games as the team wants to, but it doesn’t have to complete the minimum requirement for games played. This affiliate status also allows for a trial period to ensure the team can handle fundraising and expenses — such as the matching uniforms, travel and more.
This year, the hockey team is looking to compete in two more tournaments next semester and six or seven league games. Hogan said he hopes this expands next year to a full 10 game season and four to six tournaments.