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news article on USA uw hockey

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  • CROSEUSOA@aol.com
    Graham Hendeson, Australia, found this one and sent it to me ........
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 3, 2006
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      Graham Hendeson, Australia, found this one and sent it to me ........

      <<Mostly everyone knows that the game of hockey is played on ice. And mostly everyone knows that variations of the popular game are played on grass and turf fields and on tables.

      Beltway Bottom Feeders practices
      George Mason University (4400 University Drive, Fairfax): Practices are Sundays from 6 to 8:30 p.m. and Tuesdays from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m.

      Oak Marr Rec Center (3200 Jermantown Road, Oakton): Practices are Thursdays from 8 to 9 p.m.

      Visit http://dc.underwaterhockey.com or contact David Sun at dsun_mail@... for more information.

      However, fewer people have ever heard of underwater hockey and fewer still have ever seen it played. Show up to a Beltway Bottom Feeders practice, and you will quickly discover what the esoteric sport is all about.

      If you\'ve never heard of the game, no one could really blame you. Not even David Sun, who founded the Beltway Bottom Feeders nine years ago after he learned how to play as a scuba instructor and Virginia Tech student in 1989. He admits the game has a perception problem and is perhaps the victim of a name he says is a "misnomer."

      "Underwater hockey has a nice name, but it\'s a term that combines two completely disparate and unrelated terms," said Sun, a 35 year-old Vienna resident and team captain. "It's a very difficult sport to describe and very difficult for people to visualize."

      In theory, underwater hockey is just like almost any other mainstream American sport in which two teams compete to advance a movable object into the opponent\'s end of the playing field in hopes of scoring. In this case, the movable object is a three-pound puck that gets pushed along the pool floor by a foot-long "hockey stick" and the goal more closely resembles a gutter than a cage or net. Players wear a diving mask, fins, snorkel, water polo hat and, of course, swimwear.

      The anaerobic nature of underwater hockey is what separates it from just about every other sport. One must make a choice while playing: breathe or score. And, because the air is at the top and scoring occurs at the bottom, it becomes a difficult decision to make in the heat of battle.

      Another paradox of underwater hockey is that, although the ability to hold one\'s breath for extended periods can be helpful, the real skill is judging when to dive. It can take just a few seconds to submerge one\'s self, pass the puck to a teammate and then resurface for a much-deserved breath.

      "The best players are almost like Yoda. Zen masters," said Brian Lenius, 39, of Mount Vernon. "They go down and they don\'t even look like they\'re moving. They don\'t look alive even and then they\'re like WHAM! They come alive and they\'re like lightning swirling all around. Then they calm down, control their breathing and it\'s like they\'re asleep again."

      Fitness is a huge reason why people play, but community is another. Pat Brooks, a 22-year-old Burke resident and rising senior at George Mason University, met his current roommate, Matt Jaquith, through underwater hockey. Sun, founder of McLean-based SunBlock Systems, happens to be Brooks\' employer.

      Georgetown University employee Karen Chevrier thought the guy across the pool was breathing heavily thanks to seared lungs. Maybe, it was also because he was interested in her. The two are now dating.

      "That is fortunate because otherwise I would have no time to date," laughed Chevrier, a member of the U.S. national team that will compete in Great Britain in the underwater hockey World Cup Aug. 10-27. "A date can be playing underwater hockey."

      Current players are already hooked. The challenge is figuring out how to widen underwater hockey\'s appeal. Paradoxically, what makes the sport unique also makes it hard to grow.

      Underwater hockey hardly appeals to spectators because it is difficult to see from the surface what is happening underwater. But the team members are hopeful that, with the proper utilization of technology, underwater hockey will catch on.

      "There\'s a whole bunch of unconventional sports out there," Jaquith laughed. "I saw domino championships and Australian rules football on ESPN2 today, so underwater hockey can\'t be very far off.">>

      ©Times Community Newspapers 2006


      Carol Rose, President
      Underwater Society of America
      53C Appian Way
      South San Francisco CA 94080
      650 583 8492
      650 583 0614 fax
      650 224 8353 cell

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