Underwater Hockey a Force at Mason

Posted: July 21, 2006 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: March 26, 2012 at 8:01 am

By Nicholas Zinzer

Most George Mason University sports teams play on tracks, fields or in pools where athletes intentionally stay above the water.

This is not so for members of Mason’s Underwater Hockey Club team, who generally play more effectively by staying under water longer than their opponents.

Underwater hockey, a sport that combines aspects of ice hockey and soccer, is played with two teams who score by thrusting a three-pound wood or plastic polymer puck into a goal trough. Player positions are similar to soccer, yet they are on the floor of a swimming pool.

“Unlike other sports, there are dimensions to underwater hockey. People come from all different angles. People come from under you and behind you,” says Patrick Brooks, president of Mason’s Underwater Hockey Club.

As a club sport, underwater hockey does not hold tryouts, although the teams practice and compete on a regular basis. Club sports are not as rigorous as NCAA Division I sports and are geared toward social interaction, exercise and occasional competition.

Mason’s Underwater Hockey Club practices and competes in conjunction with the Beltway Bottom Feeders, an underwater hockey team based in Washington, D.C. Beltway Bottom Feeders includes individuals from other schools from Maryland, Virginia and Washington, D.C.

Mason’s team practices more than it competes in tournaments. “We tend to practice most of the time. It really depends what is coming up. If we have a big tournament coming up, the majority of the practice will be drills … otherwise we scrimmage,” says Juan Sebillan, a graduate student studying telecommunication. He has been playing underwater hockey for four years.

The Underwater Hockey Club is a small group on campus, with six or seven active student members. However, during practice, as many as 12 individuals participate because the Mason team practices with the Beltway Bottom Feeders.

“Sometimes people come only for practice and others for tournaments,” says Brooks, a senior majoring in information technology. He adds that active members of the team travel to tournaments throughout the United States and Canada. “We even have a few people on the D.C. team who represent the U.S. for the world tournament.”

Practices are held at the Fairfax Campus Aquatic and Fitness Center on Sundays from 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesdays from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. and Thursdays at Oak Marr Recreation Center in Oakton from 8 to 9 p.m.

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