Rob Weyforth first latched on with a group of guys who were playing roller hockey 20 years ago.
The players competed over the winter in Maryland to stay in shape. One day, the guys had a chance to try ice hockey.
“After we got out there and got our first taste of the ice, we were like, ‘Oh my, the puck just glides forever,’” Weyforth remembered. “It’s just a faster, smoother, better game than the roller is — as much as we loved roller. Everybody but me and one other guy never went back [to roller hockey]. I went back for one more season and then I’ve never played roller hockey since then.”
That was 10 years ago when the guys started an ice hockey team named Old School. There’s a core group of seven or eight players who are still on the team and going strong in the Reisterstown (Maryland) Sportsplex Adult Hockey League.
“It’s amazing; it’s a brotherhood,” said original team member Bryan Filkins. “It’s more than hockey, I’ll tell you that. It’s great.”
Weyforth, who is the team captain, said it’s important the core group of players keep coming back every year to play for Old School.
“If you step away, it’s almost like you’re stepping away from this hockey world,” Weyforth said. “Of course, we have friendships outside of that, but on a regular basis you wouldn’t see these guys. Outside of the rink, you might not see a guy for three or four months. With ice hockey, at least you know you’re keeping up and you know what’s going on with somebody’s life. Then, if you go out after a game, you’re catching up even more.
“The friendships are what make the victories even sweeter.”
As the guys get older, they’ve shuffled what division they play. Old School started in the A League, but is now in the D League. It’s been a few years since the team has won a title, but they captured the B League championship in one of the first seasons, and were the C League champs a couple years later.
But Old School is in it to win it every year.
“We take it pretty serious,” Weyforth said. “I think we go in with the attitude to win every game, and if somebody’s slacking out there or being lazy, they get yelled at. There’s some guys that are pretty intense on this team.”
But there’s always a lighter moment when the guys sit back and realize it’s just a game.
“You love playing hockey, but at the same time being with those guys is what it’s about,” Filkins said. “It’s more of a social thing with us.”
The guys note it’s like a brotherhood with their teammates. They share so much camaraderie on and off the ice.
“Hockey’s a funny thing, it’s just like another subculture,” Weyforth said. “You go through marriages, kids, divorces, fights out on the rink, championships, tough losses. It’s kind of the bond, you’re dealing with each other’s lives.”
Said Filkins: “On the ice, off the ice, we know about our families, our kids, everything. We can lean on each other. It’s a great group.”
Since Old School — which plays year-round — has been playing together for so long, the players keep getting older while most of the teams in their league are getting younger.
The guys on the team range mainly from the late 30s to the early 60s.
“The hunger is still there, that’s the thing I think about,” said Weyforth, who is 51. “When you think as you get older maybe you’re going to care a little less about winning, this team still wants to win. We still show up every game.”
Old School usually adds a couple new players each season. It’s usually guys they know who will fit into their system.
“They catch on quick what we’re about,” said the 39-year-old Filkins. “If they’re in with our style we play and our mindset, they stick with us. If not, they move on. We’re a pretty easy-going group.”
With 20 years in the books playing together and a smooth last 10 years on the ice, the Old School guys hope to be playing at least another decade.
“I can’t imagine life without hockey,” Weyforth said. “You almost have a commitment not just for yourself to play, but with the guys. You want to go as long as you can.”
Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc
Tag(s): Adult Hockey