The USF Roller Hockey Club is assembling its all-star tournament team while it plays in a local men’s league to train and condition for its upcoming Southeastern Collegiate Roller Hockey League (SECRHL) tournaments. The team will travel down to Fort Myers for a tournament in November with the prospect of two more tournaments in the spring depending on funding.
“There’s one [tournament] November 12 and 13 in Fort Myers that’s going to be with the SECRHL, which is our conference for our collegiate league,” said four-year veteran forward Jordan Mckenzie, a senior exercise science major and president of the Roller Hockey Club.
“What we’re trying to accomplish is just a good turnout and a good winning percentage when we go to these multiple tournaments, just so next year we can be a full member team and then hopefully be able to compete in regionals and then hopefully nationals,” Mckenzie said.
The team is coming off of a successful season last year, finishing second in the East Coast Hockey Organization (ECHO) Regional Qualifier before going on to win the 2Hot4Ice Regional Qualifier.
“I think we did well in the first tournament despite not having a lot players,” said forward John Neger, a junior accounting major and treasurer of the Roller Hockey Club. “We managed to get second and then our second tournament we even stepped it up and we got first and we still didn’t have a full team of players but we made it work—it was a good year.”
The Roller Hockey Club also currently plays in a men’s league on Thursday nights at the USA Skateplex in Temple Terrace.
The club’s last game was a barn burner, with all-around player Hunter Gonzalez, netminder Grant Petty and Mckenzie leading the team to come back from a three goal deficit in the final minute before losing in a nail biting ten round shootout.
“Hunter definitely is our all-around stand out player, I’d consider him the captain of the team just because he has a lot of skill as well as he knows what to do with the puck, he knows how to talk to various kids about running practice and things of that nature,” said McKenzie. “Overall a solid team that we have and I’d give a lot of credit to Grant doing both ice and roller, coming all the time for us, he’s played well this season.”
Junior health sciences major and vice president Gonzalez is looking to put the team on his shoulders and carry them to victory in this season’s tournaments.
“I definitely want to try and be the best player at every tournament,” Gonzalez said. “I want to be the best player every time we touch the rink here.”
Going into his second year on the team, Gonzalez remains humble, looking to be selfless in his play and help others get in on some of the action and glory.
“I’m looking to kind of spread the points around,” Gonzalez said. “Hopefully pass the puck more and get some guys some goals just so it doesn’t all come back on me and really help the team out by doing that.”
Gonzalez doesn’t have to do it alone though, as freshman forward and New Jersey native Kenneth Weightman is hungry for goals and wins.
“I’m just trying to bring my abilities to the roller hockey rink,” said Weightman, a mechanical engineering major. “I’m not typically a roller hockey player but I had my skates here so [the coach] asked me to come out and I netted six points so I’m kind of sick.”
Double threat Weightman—who plays both ice and roller hockey for USF—only dabbles with roller hockey, but nonetheless relishes the opportunity to be an all-star of the Roller Hockey Club.
“Definitely a good vibe when I walked in the first day; all the players seemed friendly, everyone was supportive and it was a good time, a lot of fun,” Weightman said. “I’m just looking to make some friends, hopefully do well, win some games.”
This season, the club has recruited Roller Hockey Club alumnus and Head Coach Aaron Humphrey who is hoping to make a big impact on the bench in his first year as coach of the club.
“In my first official season of coaching roller hockey, I’d love to help the team grow,” Humphrey said. “Right now there are a very limited number of students who play the game let alone know about the sport so I’d like to help the team become better known around the school to students.”
With the help of Coach Humphrey, Mckenzie wants to turn back time in history to when the USF Roller Hockey Club was one of the top 15 clubs in Division I.
“For this season, my goal is to make us a highly competitive team by next year and so doing that we just need to hit all the different criteria for being a highly competitive team,” Mckenzie said. “So probably the biggest concern right now is just making sure we’re able to host a home event as well as fundraising but pretty much overall I’m trying to get roller hockey back to where it was back in 2008 when we were a highly competitive part of the SECRHL.”
Mckenzie believes that with the help of his players, the team and his executive board, he can lead the Roller Hockey Club to a bright future ahead.
“So that’s the goal right now, with the great executive board with Hunter and John on there,” Mckenzie said. “I expect some great things from us and then next season they’re going to carry on the legacy and make us great again.”
The Roller Hockey Club plays Thursday nights at the USA Skateplex in Temple Terrace. Attendance is free, so come out to watch and show your support!
For more USF Roller Hockey Club and USF Sport Clubs information, visit our website!
By Huw Morgan-Baveystock, USF Sport Clubs Marketing Assistant