SportsEvents Magazine

JUN 2018

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June 2018 40 roof and UC Santa Barbara has a dedicated MAC-Rink. But that's unusual. In other places, teams rent warehouse space in industrial parts of town to convert to use for games. The loss of a true pro league affected participation rates, Coggin said. "Roller hockey's first pro league didn't make it out of the 1990s," he said. "We've been miss- ing having that top-end, true pro league." Another hit landed when USA Hockey dropped roller hockey in 2011. "They decided it wasn't part of their core focus," Coggin said. "The numbers have been de- clining since the early 2000s, nationwide." While kids continue to play street hockey, you can't organize a sport in those kinds of settings, he said: "You have to have facilities, coaching." Coggin also has a hand in USA Roller Hockey, which started four years ago. "At the time, we felt like the sport needed some direction," he said. "We didn't feel like there was any real cohesive direction from any of the other organizing bodies." The college league is its largest sanc- tioned organization, with several other leagues sanctioned for adult and youth programming. Roller hockey championships bring excitement – and revenue – to host cities. Both NARCh and NCRHA have held national championships at the Germain Arena in Estero, Fla., near Fort Myers. The NARCh championship in 2016 drew 199 teams. "We estimated a little over 7,000 hotel room nights and the event generated about $3.8 million," said Jeff Mielke of Lee County Sports Development. "It was a great event for us." The Germain Arena has three rinks, making it the perfect site for the large-scale event. But scheduling the championships has been an issue the past couple of years as the event ties up the facility during the busy summer season. "We'd love to have it back," Mielke said of NARCh. "It's 10 days and when you talk about set up and laying in the inline floors, as well as breakdown, that's about two weeks." As for the future, Edwards wants to build college rosters. NCRHA is looking at college club ice hockey teams with a large number of players. "That guy who's maybe player No. 10 or 20, that guy can play roller hockey instead." In addition, NCRHA holds college- prospects camps at which kids ages 15 – 17 train and practice, and college coaches tout their programs. Participation in college league teams varies. "Some schools have three teams with 15 guys each and a paid coach," Edwards said. "There are probably five or six schools like that on the upper level. Then we have 10 to 15 schools that are barely scraping by." While the sport is strong in California, Arizona, the Midwest and the Northeast, where NCRHA has 30 teams, it struggles in states such as Colorado and Texas. It's a mixed bag, Coggin said: "I wish I could paint a completely rosy picture. We have our challenges but there's good things happening out there, too." n t SPORT Report Photo courtesy of National Collegiate Roller Hockey Association The Rochester Institute of Technology Tigers won the 2018 Division II National Championship in Fargo, N.D. The North American Roller Hockey Championships sees its largest number of participants in youth programs. Photo courtesy of the North American Roller Hockey Championships

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