By CAMERON ASHLEY
Currently at the University of Mary Washington, there are nineteen sports clubs. These clubs cover the popular sports like baseball, lacrosse and swimming. However, one popular sport has never made its way onto the UMW campus: ice hockey.
Two freshmen students, Matthew Hawkins and Matthew McNulty, have decided to change that. They have been working since September to start this new club. A love of both hockey and the UMW campus sparked the passion and inspiration to start the club ice hockey team.
“I’ve played in high school and I was always looking at colleges to play ice hockey at or that have hockey teams. I ended up coming here because I love the campus, but I have friends at other schools with club teams,” said Hawkins.
Currently, Hawkins and McNulty have six students willing to join the team but need at least eight more to have a full team. The two students are willing to accept anyone who is wants to play. Gender, age, and skill levels are not important when joining this team. Even the creators of the club are at completely different skill levels as Hawkins started playing hockey at the age of three while McNulty is new to the sport with only ice skating experience.
When starting a club for a sport like hockey, there are a lot of factors to consider. Before becoming official, any sports club has to go through its first year without being supported by the school. This is so it can prove that there is a need for the club. The ice hockey club is preparing to go through the Fall of 2018. A budget must be prepared to prove to the school how much the club would cost and then, after sorting out what the players would pay for and what the school is willing to pay for, the ice hockey club can be official.
The budget would account for things like renting an ice rink and transportation to the rink. The Prince William Ice Center is the closest ice rink and it is 40 minutes away from campus. It has been considered as a potential practice location but nothing is official yet. As a way to alleviate costs within the first year, Hawkins and McNulty have discussed not joining a conference but instead scrimmaging with other college hockey clubs. This way the cost to rent the rink would be divided between the teams and both teams get practice time. There are several schools near UMW that have hockey clubs like James Madison University, University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University.
Uniforms will be one of the main costs that students will be responsible for. Students who have played hockey before will most likely have their own gear. However, students who are new to the sport may have some difficulty buying the equipment required to safely play hockey. Experienced players who have extra gear may be an easy way for new players to get equipment. Hawkins has also been talking to local coaches about getting spare equipment for club use.The students do not believe that equipment costs should deter anyone who wants to play from not joining the club.
“We’d love it if someone has their own equipment, but we are going to be just as supportive if someone doesn’t and needs help paying for it,” said McNulty.
McNulty and Hawkins hope to have the club officially recognized by the school in Fall of 2019 but they have a long road ahead of them. Their main focus is to get more people interested in playing and joining. Both students stressed their willingness to accept people of all skill levels and encouraged those who had never skated before to join.
“You could end up loving this sport without realizing.” said McNulty.
The two plan on placing flyers around campus to spread the word and will hold their first interest meeting when they accumulate more interest. If you are interested in joining the club or have any questions, you can reach McNulty and Hawkins at email@example.com.