From September to February, 29 students from various high schools around the county come together, regardless of school rivalry, to play hockey. During these times, the only thing students like senior, Matthew Geier, want is to be able to compete for the school they love.
The league, which consists of 17 different teams, made up of players from across the Tampa Bay area, has existed for years, but none of these teams have been able to represent their school by wearing their respective colors and a logo. For the numerous Steinbrenner students that make up the majority of the team, all they want is to play the game they love with the support of their school. As they glare forward to slap the puck right in the back of the net and collide with other players on the ice, all the Steinbrenner students want is the support of their fellow classmates.
The “Steinbrenner hockey team” (which is not affiliated with Steinbrenner High School in the same way as soccer or baseball) is ranked second in their league with an 8-1 record. On top of that, they are known throughout the bay area as one of the fiercest squads in the game, battling for the puck, drop after drop with every bit of intensity and emotion they can scrape together.
Even though Geier expects no change to occur this year or the next, he sees high school hockey in Florida becoming as popular as football or volleyball within the next decade. They are one of the dominating teams in the state, and have the dedication to bring the sport to whatever place they can imagine. While possible reasons for the sport not being approved by the FHSAA (Florida High School Athletic Association) include insurance and costs along with liability issues, the biggest obstacle identified by Hillsborough County Director of Athletics, Lanness Robinson, is finding enough players from one school to fill a roster to be able to supply enough teams for leagues to have a variety of competition among many participating schools.
But still, Geier remains optimistic as he knows that popularity for the sport will only increase as more people go to the games to see how fun and entertaining the matches really are. Over the five years that the team has been in existence, Steinbrenner is 44-36-3, excluding playoffs to date (Dec. 14). For more information as to where and when the team will play, in addition to statistics, ways to get involved within the hockey programs, and standings, you can visit http://fhsha.goalline.com.
BY: Evan Abramson / Online Sports Editor