Sports

Bainbridge Roller Hockey League skates into summer season

Players ranging in age from 7 to 18 compete throughout the three divisions of the Bainbridge Roller Hockey League. The season begins with skating tutorials and instruction, before ramping up into actual practices and finally playoff tournaments in July.   - Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review
Players ranging in age from 7 to 18 compete throughout the three divisions of the Bainbridge Roller Hockey League. The season begins with skating tutorials and instruction, before ramping up into actual practices and finally playoff tournaments in July.
— image credit: Luciano Marano | Bainbridge Island Review

With the spring sports season over and done with, and football season seemingly forever away, it can feel impossible for an island sports fan to get their local fix in the summer time.

However, Bainbridge has at least one summer athletic option that offers athletes and their families the physical and social benefits of sport, teamwork and camaraderie with a less structured environment than typical school-based teams.

Put on your pads and strap on your skates for another season of roller hockey on Bainbridge Island.

The Bainbridge Roller Hockey League divides players into three age-based divisions (7-10, 11-13 and 14-18) taking care to balance the team rosters to ensure the most even and fair competition, explained Dawn Janow, BRHL president.

“It has this wonderful mix of being fiercely competitive but super fun,” Janow said. “My D3 kids have been playing forever, they all know each other [and] the teams get mixed up every year. So they’re really just having a good time. It’s a lot like ‘Sandlot,’ there are teams, they all know each other, there’s a lot of chatter and then once the game’s over, the game’s over. You have no select teams or anything like that.”

Parents agree, saying that the less formal structure of the league teams — with many of the league’s volunteer coaches being former players assisted by older students - makes for a fun and healthy outlet for the kids.

It’s the good kind of competition, said Robert Bloom. His son Jack, 11, only just recently started playing and has made impressive improvements in both his playing and general skating ability in a very short time, Bloom said.

“Half of our friends have kids who play,” Bloom said of how he came to enroll his son. “They’re out here having fun, which is how it should be at that age.”

At the end of the season the teams do play in divisional playoffs, but Janow said that the emphasis throughout the preseason training camps and even the games is not the score, but the sport.

“We do keep standings, but the idea is to come out and have a good time,” she said. “We’re pretty unique.”

There are 160 kids playing on the league’s 14 co-ed teams, Janow explained. Players range in age from 7 to 18, some coming from as far away as Port Orchard to play, and vary in skill level with some being accomplished skaters and others attending the season’s first sessions never having stood on skates before. The teams do not play opponents from other school districts or geographical areas, but each other, creating a unique community among the players and families.

“The parents, the community, said, roller hockey is sometimes the perfect way to get them involved and excited about sports.

“If maybe baseball is too slow, or they just like to move, it’s coed so there’s no issue with that,” she said. “It is a summer time sport that they can play. These kids find it, and I tell you, I really have very few kids leave. We’re just growing and growing. I think the benefit is because it’s fun. They’re always moving, there’s not a heavy parental component like some other sports. At the D1 level, they do line changes at three minutes so everyone is getting equal playing time. We have a Gretzky rule at D1 also, so if a kid scores three goals that’s it for them. We’re trying to make sure we don’t end up with two or three kids who got the ball the whole time.”

Many of the older players, she explained, use roller hockey as a supplemental sport to whatever they play during the school year. It gives them a chance to stay fit and active, with less pressure than competition between schools and throughout the Metro League.

To learn more about the Bainbridge Roller Hockey League, and to see a complete game and practice schedule, visit www.bihockey.org.

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