MARCO ISLAND — Some people at the Marco Y had a good idea recently: A roller hockey camp for youngsters, featuring a Boston Bruins scout, Joe Lyons. The sessions, for kids ages four to seven, were to be held last week. But when we called to get information for an article on the local roller hockey effort, the Y’s Steve Reynolds told us it was cancelled because nobody signed up for it.
Could it be that nobody here is interested in having their kids learn to play roller hockey? Could it have been the cost? The fee was $90 for Y members, $110 for others.
Also the children would have to bring their own lunch, water, roller blades, helmets, pads, shorts, shirts and sneakers.
So for whatever reason, kiddie roller hockey does not seem imminent on Marco.
But a lot of parents and children in the Greater Naples area love the game and play it in north Naples. It’s been a popular pastime there for at least 16 years.
One long-time supporter, coach and booster for Naples Roller Hockey is Scot Shepard, a CPA on Marco with the firm Rogers Wood Hill Starman & Gustason.
“Our system really is built for the kids to succeed,” Scot says. “They all get equal time out there and beginners are all on the same level. You’re all starting out and you’re probably not all very good but you’ll progress together as a group and get better as you play.
“It’s designed for the younger kids to enjoy it and succeed and not get frustrated because Johnny here has been playing for years and he’s really good and he’s the only one that touches the puck. That doesn’t happen.”
Is roller hockey safe or is it rough and tumble
Isn’t it rough like a lot of ice hockey is?
“There is no checking allowed, no fighting. It is hockey in its purest form, skating, shooting, stick handling. It’s physical, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not physical in the sense of checking, slamming them into the boards, none of that.
“The kids do run into each other, but that’s not the same thing as lowering your shoulder and trying to take them out like they do in ice hockey. It’s nothing like that. Illegal use of the stick is slashing. There are penalties called. If someone takes their stick and wraps it on another player’s wrist, a penalty is called. Two minutes in the box. High sticking, your stick goes up and you hit the kid in the head with helmet. It’s not going to hurt him but it’s high sticking and that’s a penalty. It’s like football; there are certain rules and penalties.”
Scot is emphatic about the sportsmanlike nature of the game and its relative safety.
“Little kids eight and ten, they run into each other and just pop back up. They don’t get hurt. The physicality is not what it is in ice hockey, that’s for sure. But it is hockey in its purest form, skating, stick handling, shooting, playing defense.”
Scot also says that the cost is modest to enroll in Naples Roller Hockey and play the game there. We’ll have details of that in our Marcophiles column in this coming Friday’s edition of the Marco Eagle. And we’ll tell you how to see the league’s venue in person and how to register your youngsters to play roller hockey there.
Chris Curle is a former news anchor for CNN and for ABC-TV stations in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and Houston. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don is a former ABC News correspondent and bureau chief and a former news anchor for CNN and ABC-TV, in Atlanta. His Farmer File column appears Fridays in the Naples Daily News. E-mail: email@example.com.