It's for the love of the game, it's for the love of winning and the hate of losing.
Players that hail from all over the world. Their eyes have seen so much and their minds have been in both the highest and the lowest of places.
The game has changed their lives forever and their goal is to help get the sport that changed their lives to where it once was.
That sport is roller hockey and the players have all helped change the game forever. I have interviewed several players to get eyewitness accounts on how important the game really is.
There are just so many players and it would be impossible to interview them all. These players have all played at some of the highest levels in roller hockey and were all willing to share their stories.
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Stephen Campbell is one of the biggest names in the sport and has dedicated his entire life to roller hockey. Campbell has played all levels of roller hockey including the men's national USA team in 2010 and 2014.
Campbell has risked so much and has put his heart and soul into every shift on the court.
"It has kept me out of trouble, I’ve made some amazing friends, I’ve traveled the world, and its given me a career. I wouldn't have picked another sport growing up if I could do it all over again," Campbell said.
There are so many factors that make this sport so special and all of these factors have helped push Campbell to where he is today.
When I asked what his favorite memory was when playing roller hockey, he replied:
"I’ll have to go with Team USA FIRS 2014 World Games. If there is anything you could ever do as a roller hockey player, this is it.
For those that don’t know, the world games is ran by the Olympic committee. The World Games offer a wide variety of sports that are trying to show the committee why each sport should be chosen as an official Olympic sport. This tournament took place in Cali, Colombia. Our opening ceremonies had over 60,000 people in a full soccer arena cheering on our presence. Every game we had 3000 to 5000 plus people watching our games.This too, we ended up winning Gold, which just so happen to have fallen on my birthday. It was a time I’ll never forget."
As mentioned above Stephen Campbell was a huge part of the team USA roller squad. In 2010 Campbell was selected to play for the FIRS men's national roller hockey team.
"I think a top 3 moment in any athletes eyes, is to one day put on a Jersey representing your Country and to compete against the world," Campbell said.
To this day Campbell stays involved in the sport as he works for Alkali, a top manufacturer of hockey equipment while also running his own custom jersey company.
Campbell has traveled all around the world to places like Italy and China. Campbell is also currently playing for the Revision Flex in the Pama Pro Invitational so make sure you check out one of the best players in the game.
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Neumann was nothing short of a power house with Elite players like Shane Fox, PJ DiMartino, Ryan Carr, AJ Ehinger, Tyler Kraft, Anthony Koslow, and goaltender Michael Maczynski.
Lindenwood, a private school located in St.Charles, Missouri is a school that is known for their roller hockey team. Lindenwood is also one of the only schools to give out roller hockey scholarships; other schools include Neumann and Bethel.
These battles with other schools have helped shape Fox into the player that he is today.
"There is no better feeling than traveling the country, the world with your friends and winning," Fox said. "Most of my greatest memories and times come from traveling around and playing roller hockey."
Shane Fox is becoming a household name around the roller hockey world especially at NARCH where he plays for the Mission Labeda Snipers pro squad.
Team USA was locked and loaded with more talent than most teams and wearing number 13 was Neumann's Shane Fox.
When I asked what his favorite memory was, Fox said:
"Representing my country and playing for Team USA in the IIHF World Championships in Tampere, Finland in 2015. The treatment you get playing for that team is unexplainable and the feeling of wearing that jersey is as well."
Fox has built his career and one common theme comes out of it, winning. Fox has won two college national championships, a TORHS Pro, a NARCh Pro, and a Pama Pro Invitational championship.
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A New York Islander prospect that is also a pro roller hockey player, John Schiavo has made a name for himself in both roller and ice hockey.
Schiavo is becoming a household name at Islanders camp and in the world of roller hockey.
Currently Schiavo is playing for the New York Islanders ECHL affiliate Missouri Mavericks. In the world of roller hockey, Schiavo has played for some of the biggest names in the game including Mission Bauer Next Gen, Mission Black Ice, and the world junior roller hockey Team USA squad.
Schiavo is huge ambassador of the sport and supports the notion that roller hockey helps your ice hockey game.
"Roller hockey definitely helps your vision, hands, and even your skating," Schiavo said.
The skating part isn't usually brought up but Schiavo has a skating trainer and roller is often a big contribution to his ice hockey skating.
Playing roller longer than ice definitely just shows how roller hockey can positively affect your ice game.
Schiavo grew up playing roller hockey before he ever even touched the ice proving that roller hockey breeds great ice hockey players. As expected roller hockey is brought up a lot and even at the New York Islanders training camp.
Most players knew he played roller and many of the other players in the camp have also played roller hockey at the Narch level.
Schiavo has impressed many at Islanders camp especially with his two unbelievable shootout goals.
If there is one player that I would want to look up to both on and off the ice it would be Schiavo.
There aren't many players that are as humble and good spirited as John Schiavo.
Just talking to him was a pleasure and when asked who he thinks the best player was he replied:
"It would be impossible to pick just one, everyone has their own skill set there's obviously guys like Noe, White, Cadiz, and Greg Thompson who is still one of the best defensemen in the game."
The Pama Pro Invitational kicked off July 29th and ended the 31st Schiavo's Mission Black Ice team captured the championship in a dominating 6-2 win over the Labeda Snipers. So the next time you think to yourself and say "roller hockey hurts your ice hockey game," talk to or even just watch Schiavo play and believe me you'll get a different answer.
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Speed, one of the most important attributes a player can have in the game of hockey. One player that knows speed all too well is Team USA's own Junior Cadiz. In the sport of roller hockey playing for the Team USA is as close to the show as it gets.
"Every opportunity I've had was a dream com true and I am forever grateful for every chance I've had. Lets hope the old bones let me experience it once or twice more" Cadiz explained. This is yet another player that has dedicated his entire life to this sport and has played with and against some of the best players in the game including Travis Noe and Matt White. These interactions with players have helped make the game so special for Cadiz. When asked about what makes you keep coming back to the sport Cadiz replied "It's easy! The people, the weekends, the memories, the venues, lets not forget about the hockey. It’s been my job and has taken me to countries and places in the world I never even knew existed. I can’t say bye to the sport so easily after all its done for me."
Cadiz is yet another player that has made a name for himself and when I asked John Schiavo, who he thought the best player in the game is, he replied:
"There's obviously guys like Travis Noe and Matt White but there's also Junior Cadiz I think he's very underrated,"
Cadiz is often underrated until other players have the chance to play against him after that, all of that underrated talk goes out the window. Cadiz is right up there with the elites and there is only time for him to make more of a name for himself. To the people who don't think roller hockey will draw crowds talk to Cadiz who walked out to 60,000 people for an opening ceremony in Columbia. The game can only get bigger and because players like Cadiz are apart of the future the sport cannot die.
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Players like Matt White, Itan Chivira, Juaquin Chivira, Travis Noe, Tyler Spezia, Kyle Novak, Brett Leggat, Greg Thompson and many more.
So many people have touched this sport for the better and have been amazing ambassadors for the sport.
One of these people who deserves recognition is CJ Yoder. Yoder is a player, coach, and mentor recognized all over the country.
Yoder plays for the pro Tour Mudcats team and is a huge factor in the teams success Yoder is a huge reason that the sport of roller hockey is growing so much as he founded the Professional Inline Hockey Association (PIHA) in 2002.
We need more people like Yoder, people that aren't afraid to step up and make a change. With this said let us spread the word to every possible media outlet and lets get roller hockey back on the map. Maybe one day, one day we will see roller hockey back on television until then we all have a job to do. All of our eyes as athletes have seen so much and the only place we can look is forward.