Five inline hockey teams will be representing Kansas in the ninth annual State Wars starting today in the Chicago area. The competition, involving different age groups, will be played in the Chicago suburb of Darien.
By CHARLES REDFIELD
Special to The Star
Last year, Kansas sent two teams to the competition.
The five teams are 1997 Team Kansas, 1999 Team Kansas, 2000 Team Kansas, 2001 Team Kansas and 2003 Team Kansas.
What exactly is inline hockey?
“Inline roller hockey is ice hockey, but on wheels,” said Luke Davis, who is coaching 2003 Team Kansas. “I like to refer to it as the little brother of ice hockey.”
Davis grew up in California playing inline hockey.
What are the differences from ice hockey, besides the obvious?
“There are four skaters in inline versus the five in ice,” Davis said. “There are no offsides, and we play in multiple surfaces including wood, sport court, concrete, coated concrete. Until you reach a high competitive level, there is no standard in rink size.”
Davis noted that there are two halves in inline hockey versus three periods in ice hockey.
Richard Hawkins is the director of Inline Hockey for the Kansas City Ice Center in western Shawnee. He is also the head coach for the 1997, 1999, 2000 and 2001 Team Kansas teams entered in the State Wars.
Hawkins grew up in Canada and grew up playing ice hockey.
“I play as well as my four sons, both ice and inline,” he said.
He took two teams to the State Wars in 2012.
“State Wars is one of the biggest inline hockey tournaments held each year in the United States,” he said.
He said that teams are made by the states.
“People can come anywhere in a state to try out for teams,” he said. “Representatives from New York, which is the State Wars headquarters, come to each town and pick your teams for you.
“They see all the talent that comes to try out from wherever they come from, as long as they are from that state. They form the teams for you.”
The tryouts this summer took place at the Kansas City Ice Center.
“We held the tryouts for any kids from Kansas interested in playing,” Hawkins said. “The teams were chosen and the rink has supplied us time to practice at no charge. We have been practicing every Sunday since tryouts to prepare for the great competition we are about to face.”
The teams are mostly boys, but girls can try out and make a team. The 1997, 2000 and 2001 teams play today through Aug. 3. The 1999 team plays Aug. 2-5, while the 2003 team plays Aug. 6-9.
The Johnson County players on the teams are: (Some players are on more than one team but are mentioned just once.)
1997: Connor Riley, Shawnee; Kyle Crolley, Shawnee; Brandon Elliott, Overland Park; Brett Hawkins, Shawnee; David Jacobson, Overland Park; Jarrett McDonald, Overland Park and Hunter Ryan, Overland Park.
1999: Chris Fallon, Overland Park; Trey Keating, Shawnee; Tyler Keating, Overland Park; Quinn Kobe, Prairie Village; Korinne McDonald, Overland Park; Wes Mentzel, Overland Park; Ben Willert, Overland Park.
2001: Drew Hansen, Overland Park; Trevor Bolden, Lenexa; Carsen Cook, Lenexa; Cameron Crolle, Shawnee; Mark Early, Overland Park; Eli Gratz, Overland Park; Blake Hansen, Overland Park; Andrew Tracy, Lenexa.
2002: Isaac Weatherford, Overland Park; Gavin Davis, Overland Park; Cody Hodgden, Overland Park; Kyle Keating, Shawnee; Blake Rojas, Overland Park.
2003: Austin Buenneke, Overland Park; Nick Noble, Overland Park; Zach Whitaker, Overland Park.