The underwater hockey team is preparing for their upcoming national tournament in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this July, the team’s fourth and final tournament of the year. This year, they have traveled to Canada, Orlando and have held their own tournament at the AFC.
“I love going tournaments, especially nationals, is really fun,” said Dan Yocum, president of the team who will be taking his third trip nationals this summer. “Preparing for it is difficult and getting everything organized. It is fun to push yourself for three months for the big tournament so we can play high level hockey. We are lucky at Mason because every practice we get in a high level game.”
Underwater hockey is an interesting vari- ation of hockey in a pool where swimmers have a mask, snorkel, fins, gloves, small stick and weighted puck. It is played with six people in the pool per team, typically with three forwards and three defensemen but no goalie.
Yocum believes it is the type of sport where people will get a lot more out of it then they expect.
“Underwater hockey was weird when I started and I did not know what to expect, but I thought it was fun,” Yocum said. “I watched videos on Youtube which made it look fun. You just have to play it. Most people that come out to play continue to come out.”
Underwater hockey shares similar char- acteristics with normal hockey. Like ice or roller hockey, swimmers usually play in shifts. A typical shift may last two minutes and a swimmer may be under water for 30 seconds at a time.
Another similar part of the game to its on-land counterpart is penalties. The most common foul in the underwater hockey is hitting someone in the face with a stick, which happens when players swim close to the floor when opponents are hitting the puck.
Hitting someone in the face may get a swimmer thrown out of a game.
Because underwater hockey has fewer competitive teams than most sports, adult teams and even one high school teams play at
nationals in separate A and B divisions based on skill level. Cities like California, Colorado and D.C are known for having competitive teams.
“We hope to get into the A division again, which is rare for a college team,” Yocum said. “That is our big accomplishment in the last two years and hopefully we can do it again this year.”
No matter how his last season as president ends, Yocum just wants to know he has made
the program better from when he took over. “The sport is awesome. It is like nothing else you have ever heard. It is a great conversation piece and it is addicting. I think we are in a really good place as a program.”