What a day it has been!! No...scratch that! What a week it has been. The 2016 TORHS2Hot4Ice Nationals has been the most dramatic, eventful, exciting, depressing, surprising (I think I covered all of the adjectives) events I have EVER been involved with in my roller hockey career.
Let’s start from the beginning since no one has really heard from me (unless you are here in Kalamazoo) since the start of the tourny!
We walked into some unknowns here at the Wings Event Center but any questions we had were answered very quickly. The staff here at the center is second to NONE! Rob, Emily and everyone else on staff have been absolutely amazing to work with. I don’t remember a time when someone has told me ‘NO’ to anything we have requested. They have gone to the extreme to make us feel comfortable and make sure this event is the best it can be. I feel like they work for us!! The facility is beautiful, we have complete access to the jumbotron and the monitors in the entire facility and knowing we will be back here at some point in the future, I cannot wait to check out every capability we have with all of the technology in this building.
Make sure you continue to check our website for live scoring and our highlight videos so you can stay up to date on the event.
The first few days have been tremendous. The hockey has been spectacular and even though the pros were here, some of the most exciting hockey is watching the Atoms and Mites play. It’s a blast seeing the gloves and sticks goes in the air and the helmets come off when the horn sounds and champions have been crowned. It’s awesome to see people I haven’t seen since the beginning of the season and get to sit down and talk with them or just catch up for a little bit. I got to see families like the Gergers (PA), Abrahamians (GA), Harringtons (GA), and those are just to name a few. I didn’t get to go everywhere this year so it’s always a pleasure to see the faces I haven’t seen since last year.
Looking at some of the older divisions, it’s great to see tons of good hockey as so many pro players play in the junior and D1 divisions as well. They won’t tell you but they take pride in winning those divisions and not just in pro. You can really see how much it means to the guys who are playing out their last year in the junior division. And when it comes down to one division that they have remaining, they really give it their all as they know their chance to win gold gets smaller and smaller as the tournament goes along. I’ve always wondered as a player if its easier to play with no pressure if you have already won gold in an event...
On that note, I write this with jealousy in my heart, while at the same time being extremely happy for one of my great friends, Jason Muro. BLACK ICE IS THE PREMIER ROLLER HOCKEY PROGRAM IN THE COUNTRY. And it may be the best organization this sport has ever seen.
Year after year, they just...WIN. This year they swept Jr AAA, D1, and PRO and the model they have is simple. Jason Muro has guys on his teams that he has coached for years and these guys are dedicated and LOYAL. Names like DiMartino, Kraft, Tiefenwerth, Pascalli, Fox, and others have been with Jason for the longest time. The sport doesn’t see a lot of that anymore either. Jason (Mission Black Ice) and Vio (Tour Roadrunners) have been talked about by many as “ruining the sport” with the way they build their teams. That has got to be one of the most idiotic things I have heard. These guys build their teams and then add to it with guys whose teams are NOT ATTENDING national events. You would think that would wake some organizations up and get them going. Would I love for it to be to a TORHS event? Yes! But even if its not, these kids want to travel and if you don’t go, trust me, they are going to find someone to go with. And when you see teams who are as visible as Black Ice and the Roadrunners have been over the years, players just gravitate to them.
Jason Muro has built a program with many of the same players since I can remember meeting him and these guys are now PRO champions. They continue to succeed in everything they do. Speaking from experience I am EXTREMELY happy that I have got to work with the same core group of guys for a couple years now in my organization and I hope to get to where Jason’s program is in the very near future. Loyalty is so important. I can’t personally do as much as others do for their guys, but it feels even better when you beat those guys. Jason Muro did it without paying for everything for his guys and he still doesn’t. Yet, they still stay. They are loyal, dedicated and a TEAM and Jason has instilled that in his guys. Jason can prepare for the season KNOWING what he has. Not every pro team can. Who’s at fault? Well...that’s up to the roller hockey community to decide, but for now...The LOYALTY model that Jason Muro has set for his program has worked tremendously. Thank you for setting the example, Jason.
This is not to knock other programs at all, because there have definitely been some ridiculously successful programs. Tim McManus and the Snipers are one that use to be dominant with youth teams all the way to their professional teams. Remember Pedro and Team Breakaway from Philly? DMS?...the list goes on and on, but we need that back in the sport.
With all that being said...the event is going well. The next blog I write I will try to cover more ground. But I went off on a tangent for this one. My apologies. But I had to give credit where credit was due. But until next time....
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