Street Hockey, It’s Not Just a Northern Sport

December 19th, 2012 | By Gary No Comments

I grew up about 1,000 miles north of Athens, where a winter snowstorm meant a couple of hours of shoveling to clean off the driveway before walking to school (no snow days).

After school we almost always played hockey. Not in a rink with ice and skates. We played in the street or a large driveway. We often made our own nets and we used sticks with plastic blades that we heated and curved to help hold the tennis ball as we made that awesome wrist shot. The kids that played goalie used a baseball glove in their catching hand and some even made their own leg pads out of pieces of foam. We didn’t look like much but we had a lot of fun and got some great exercise while doing it. It was great in the winter when the snowbanks could act as the boards on the side, but we would play just about any time of the year.

When my daughter and son were younger, some of the first things their Papa from Canada bought them were street hockey sticks and a goal. It was a great way for three generations to spend some time moving and enjoying an outdoor winter sport. It brought back a lot a great memories and made us wish more people in the south would try street hockey. I’ve since come to find out that there are other people in this area who play street hockey, but I didn’t know it at the time. Some are other families, like ours, that have a connection to northern states or countries where hockey is more popular. Others were just introduced to it by friends, neighbors or by just following hockey on TV.

The great thing about playing street hockey is that it is easy to learn, anyone can play, and it is relatively inexpensive. For younger kids, you can go to Toys R Us and get two junior sticks and a ball for $15. For older kids, you can order good street hockey sticks online for under $20. Don’t worry if you don’t have an official street hockey ball, a dog’s tennis ball will work (they don’t bounce as much as regular tennis balls). If you don’t want to invest in a hockey net, you can make one out of plastic pipe or just set up a couple of cones six feet apart. Now all you need is an even number of players, up to six per team, and you are ready to play. Most kids make up their own rules but if you want to be official go to

For adults looking to play, you have to check out a street hockey league that plays every Tuesday and Thursday evenings at the outdoor street hockey rink at the Athens YMCA.  Mark McCoy, who helps organize the Athens Floor Hockey League, invited me out a few weeks ago to see what it was all about. I was immediately impressed with the facility, which looks just like a regulation hockey rink without the ice, but I was equally impressed by the people I met.

Each night, about 12-15 of the 40+ members show up to play five periods of fast-paced street hockey, which takes about two hours. Some have played ice hockey before but most are just people who played street hockey as a kid or were introduced to it as an adult. Some are from up north, but many are southerners who have adopted the sport. Their skill levels vary but it is always a recreational game, where everyone has fun and beginners can feel very welcome and comfortable as they learn the game.

Besides playing a fun sport that offers a great workout, hockey gives you a chance to make some new friends in the league. This diverse group includes people of all ages with lots of different backgrounds, but in the end they share a passion to stay active while playing a sport they love.

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