I can trace back my love of hockey to the time the Eastern Sports Programming Network (ESPN) came on the air out in Abilene, TX where I grew up. ESPN was where I first saw the sport of hockey played. I was instantly hooked. The speed of play, the physicality, and of course the fighting had me locked in to every game no matter who it was.
My town had no ice rink, or any store where you could get hockey equipment. Eventually Toys R Us moved in, and they had some street hockey equipment. All they offered were Franklin sticks with brightly colored plastic blades, replacement blades, and rubber street hockey balls. A few friends and I purchased some sticks, and would mess around on tennis courts a couple times a week. My dad built me a goal out of pvc pipe and construction netting, so we could have an actual target to shoot on.
We eventually met a few kids from school whose parents were in the Air Force and stationed at Dyess Air Force Base. They invited us to come out to a pickup game on the base, and we were amazed to see that they had roller blades on. We eventually begged my mother to drive me and a couple buddies to Dallas one weekend so we could buy roller blades and be cool too. Hard to imagine life before the internet, but that was the reality back then. If we wanted some hockey equipment we had to go to the big city and go store to store until we found what we needed.
As time passed we had more and more people joining our Sunday afternoon pickup games. A Play it Again Sports moved into town, and we convinced the owner to stock some hockey gear. It was right around this time that the Minnesota North Stars announced they were moving to Dallas. Hockey fever spread across North and West Texas, and we were seeing more and more kids picking up a stick and a pair of skates.
We had to move our pickup games to a roller skating rink in a sketchy part of town. The rink charged $5 a person which people had no problem paying to get out of the heat. Over time we were allowed to build boards, install a scoreboard, and some netting behind the goals. We eventually established a travel team that would go around the state playing tournaments.
I moved away to Dallas in the late 90’s, and transitioned over to ice. Last time I was on in line skates was right around the time I moved to Dallas. I keep close tabs on the hockey community back in West Texas, and hope that one day kids out there will have the same opportunities to learn and play the game that kids have in say Michigan, Maine, or Wisconsin.
I am currently the Vice President of Ticket Operations for the Lone Star Brahmas Hockey Club of the North American Hockey Club. Before this position I was Director of Sales with the Fort Worth Brahmas. I have been in the hockey business for a total of 6 years now. I don’t play league hockey anymore, but have a regular skate once a week with other team employees, former players, and other friends I have met along the way. We play pick up style for the love of the game, and the great exercise it provides.
With that as a brief introduction, I’m looking forward to now scouring our great state for news about youth hockey, from beginners through Midgets. That’s no small task, of course, so I’m asking your help. Please let me know about anything newsworthy — from individual to team accomplishments to special events, and especially about special interest stories.
I’m looking forward to a great hockey season, but let’s do it together!
~ Chad Siewert firstname.lastname@example.org