Ice, Ice Baby

New club sport is far from chill

Ice, Ice Baby

While Baylor and the Waco community have celebrated championships and national success across a wide variety of sports, a group of students hopes to revive a club sport that is not often associated with the unforgiving Central Texas heat: ice hockey.

Past iterations of ice hockey in Waco include a fledgling Baylor club team in the late 2000s and the local favorite Waco Wizards, a Western Professional Hockey League franchise that played at Heart O’ Texas Coliseum (now known as Extraco Events Center) from 1996 to 2000.

During one of the last attempts to field an ice hockey team at Baylor, former student Joe Cure was cast in the 2004 film Miracle. Cure portrayed Mike Ramsey, the youngest member of the “Miracle on Ice” U.S. men’s ice hockey team that won the gold medal at the 1980 Winter Olympics.

For organizers like Daniel Atkins, senior accounting major and president of Baylor Club Ice Hockey, the opportunity to succeed where other attempts at ice hockey in Waco have failed comes down to growth, money and -— perhaps —  a miracle of their own.

“It all started in January when I woke up one morning feeling incredibly called to start the hockey team,” Atkins said. “That evening, I sent some emails to a few departments on campus to find out what it would take, and the rest is history from there.”

Atkins had early hopes for roughly a dozen players — enough to form a bare-bones team for the 2021-22 season. However, 27 players registered for the squad’s inaugural campaign.

Daniel Atkins
Daniel Atkins, senior accounting major and president of Baylor Club Ice Hockey

Baylor will compete against familiar intercollegiate club foes including Texas A&M University and Oklahoma State University. The team faces the unique challenge of not having access to a “home” ice rink. Instead, the team will practice weekly at a local roller-skating rink and travel to ice rinks in Cedar Park, Texas, Mansfield, Texas, or College Station, Texas, for all competitions.

“While some club teams in Texas get to practice two or three times a week on ice, we don’t have that same luxury,” Atkins said.

In time, this may change. The National Hockey League’s Dallas Stars organization has approached the club and the City of Waco about potentially bringing an ice rink to the community.

Baylor continues to attract students from across the country. Meanwhile, Waco is attracting more residents from traditional hockey areas in the Northeast and Canada.

“We’ve been blessed to have so many amazing players from all over the nation end up at Baylor for one reason or another,” Atkins said.

Fans looking to follow and support the club team can follow @baylorhockey on Instagram and can give directly to the team at Donations directly contribute to the club to help reduce costs of dues, hotels, ice time, referees, transportation and registration costs.