BY ZACHARY CORMIER
The Central Alberta Sharks Underwater Hockey Club is getting set to kick off its fifth year of aquatic action and are looking for new members.
“It’s a lot of fun. If they like swimming and they like playing team sports, this is an awesome game for them. They usually have quite a bit of fun with the game because it’s absolutely brand new. It’s a novel game, it’s something that a lot of people aren’t aware of,” said Sharks’ President Kathy Bargholz.
The sport, which is a combination of swimming, hockey and water polo, consists of players attempting to score on each other’s nets using sticks and a weighted puck at the bottom of a pool.
“The kids have excellent coaching and they develop excellent swimming skills, so if they’re swimmers they’re really going to like this game. So if you like hockey and you like swimming, you’ve got it made,” Bargholz said.
According to Bargholz, the Sharks have already registered four new players for the upcoming season but they’re always on the lookout for more.
“Last year we had lots of people stopping in for information and that type of thing,” Bargholz said, adding the program is open for kids ages eight to 18.
This season will see a few changes, she said, most notably the introduction of a new coach within the program in Rod Craven.
“Coach (Gillian Parker) has been with us for four years but this year Jill’s going to step back and she’s going to support a local fellow here that’s a swimmer — he’s been taking a crash course. He’s quite involved with the Dolphins and stuff, the competitive (swim) club,” Bargholz said.
Rod Craven’s son, Adam, is a member of the Sharks and this year was selected to be part of Team Canada at the World U19 Underwater Hockey Championships in Australia in July 2017.
Rod will be coaching the team one Sunday per month while the rest of the coaching duties will be handled by coaches from the Calgary Underwater Hockey Club, who will join the team two Sundays a month.
“It will be a bigger mix this year. We already have three tournaments scheduled — one that we’re putting on and one that Edmonton’s putting on and one that Calgary’s hosting.”
Another big change this season will be a scaling back of the Club’s pool time to one practice per week.
“We’re going to swim on Sundays from 1-2 p.m. at the Burman University and we’re going to tailor that to our junior and more senior players. We’re going to use a method that Jill is going to introduce this year,” Bargholz said, noting that instead of splitting players up by skill level like in the past, they will just all practice together.
The Central Alberta Underwater Hockey Club Sharks will be holding a registration night on Sept. 28th at 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Burman University pool. Anyone interested or looking for more information can email the club at firstname.lastname@example.org.