Local inline hockey players headed to Alberta Summer Games 0
Jessica Burtnick Multimedia Journalist Strathmore inline hockey players Austin Drummond, Koadi Kozman, Tate Barnett and Tyson Ramsay will head to the Alberta Summer Games in Lethbridge this July to compete.
For four of Strathmore's inline hockey players, the sound of the telephone was like music to their ears.
Wheatland Inline Hockey Association (WIHA) players Austin Drummond, Tate Barnett, Tyson Ramsay and Koadi Kozman will be Lethbridge bound for the 2012 Alberta Summer Games in July.
"I was really excited. I was relieved, actually," said 13-year-old Barnett.
"I got the call on Monday night, two nights after tryouts were done. It was nice to get it off my back."
Barnett and his teammates have ice hockey experience that ranges from seven to nine years, but have only played inline hockey for one year, with the exception of Kozman, who's played three.
"Inline is a lot harder than (regular) hockey, because you're on roller blades and they're a lot different than skates," said Ramsay, 13.
"It keeps you fit for the summer, and it's just a lot of fun."
The WIHA began last year as a local alternative to ice hockey for kids who didn't want to travel after a long hockey season, but still wanted to play.
"It's really fast paced, and you play four-on-four," said WIHA President and parent, Lynne Kozman. "It's a tic tac toe game, it's more about the passing."
To encourage passing, she explained that each player is allowed to make only three goals. After that, they no longer count.
She and husband, Jim Kozman, who will also act as the Zone Two assistant coach, believe the experience alone will be amazing for the young athletes, who have never been part of an event like this before.
"It's such a big thing to make the summer games," Lynne Kozman said. "We just play for fun, but for the tryouts they had these awesome, intense drills."
The players' reasons for trying out were varied. There was some urging from Coach Jim Kozman, but they were also eager to test their skills on the floor.
"I didn't have that bad a tryout," Barnett said. "I just wanted. to see if I was good enough to make the team this year."
"I'm surprised I made it," said Ramsay. "I was a little sick that day. I tried out just to see if I'd make it, and have fun."
The Zone Two practices haven't begun yet, but with tryouts behind them, all four players are excitedly looking ahead to the future.
"We went against some of the guys we're going to be playing with (in an exhibition game), and it was really fun, so I can't wait to play with them again come July 26," said Barnett.
"I love it, just playing hockey and learning more about hockey," said Drummond, 13.
At five-feet and ten-inches, it may be hard to believe he's just a bit nervous, as well.
"(The other teams) are really good. They've been with each other for a couple of years, and we're just a new team," he said.
Because most Zone Two players play inline hockey only seasonally, they do not get the same amount of rink time as teams such as Edmonton.
"They play year round; they're just incredible," said Lynne Kozman. "It would be great for (Zone Two) to bring home a medal."
"It's basically exactly like the Olympics," said son and goalie, Koadie Kozman, 12. His biggest fear would be getting lost enroute to the games, and missing his introduction.
Player Ramsay is just excited for the experience in itself.
"We've just got to go out there and have fun. I don't know (how we're going to do), but I guess I'll find out."
The WIHA is still looking for game sponsors and plans to hold a bottle drive on June 23 to help raise funds for the players.
Governed by the Alberta Sport, Recreation, Parks and Wildlife Foundation, all summer games participants must have qualified in a zone playoff or selection process in addition to meeting the eligibility requirements for their sport.
The Alberta Summer Games began in 1974 as a provincial initiative for amateur sport, giving young athletes the opportunity to compete and meet new people.
The province is split into eight zones; Strathmore area athletes fall into Zone Two territory, also known as Big Country.
For more information, visit www.2012albertasummergames.ca.