BY KALISHA MENDONSA
The Central Alberta Underwater Hockey Club (CAUWHC) Sharks team recently enjoyed some time at the Burman University pool where the group hosted a regional tournament and clinic.
Kathy Bargholz, Sharks’ president, said the club is now in its fifth year and the members are thoroughly enjoying their experience.
“We invite many of the junior teams that are close to us, which is usually Calgary and Edmonton. This year, we had lots of kids playing – I think 32 or 33 – so it was quite a busy day,” she said with a laugh.
“The kids played great – they didn’t hardly get out of the pool for three hours. They played their full time, and it was great to have all of them be able to play at least three games.”
The sport is a combination of swimming, hockey and water polo, where players attempt to score on each other’s nets using sticks and a weighted puck at the bottom of a pool.
The unconventional sport has been growing in popularity in the City.
Bargholz said there was a great turnout at the event, and there were even some sponsorships through ParticipACTION Canada and the local Co-op in order to provide some refreshments for the athletes.
She also said there was heavy involvement from the parents and volunteers in order to bring the tournament to life. As well, Bargholz said it was a great chance for the kids to be able to get some new competition and to test their skills out against the other teams.
“This year, one of the Calgary teams was nice enough to bring their underwater camera, so the parents were able to actually view the sport and watch their children under the waves, so that was a nice change. It’s not the most spectator-friendly sport sometimes, so it was great for the parents to be involved more this time,” Bargholz said.
She said all in all, the weekend went great. The Sharks were all smiles as their time in the pool came to a close.
“This tournament we host is great not only for building up the team, but for the kids to meet other players and be exposed to other coaches,” Bargholz explained, adding that it was very exciting for players to be able to show off their skills.
“We are a recreational-focused team, and practice on Sundays with the exception of long weekend holiday weekends. We travel to Calgary and Edmonton for tournaments and clinics, and have been recently invited to a potluck tournament in Victoria.”
In order for the kids to attend the event in Victoria, they will have to fundraise for their own transportation and accommodation.
The team does not receive regular funding, so it becomes important for the club to gain visibility and hopefully grow their profile in the Lacombe community.
“It is a fairly new concept still. Every year, we sell raffle tickets and do other fundraising events, and whenever we sit at those booths, we inevitably have someone say, ‘under-water what?’,” Bargholz laughed.
She said she’s looking forward to seeing the continued growth and interest in the Sharks’ team.