Anyone can name their favorite pastime whether it is football, baseball, basketball, golf or hockey. But when it comes to hockey, there is no other sport that can compare to the skills that are required to succeed in the game. Over in Texas, you are fortunate enough to join a hockey team just like you can with any other sport. Two specific hockey clubs that are focusing on the future of hockey are the UTEP Miners Hockey Club coached by Tom Herman and the Texas A&M Aggies Hockey Club coached by Sean Boyle. These two coaches in particular are reshaping hockey on the collegiate level with the help of all hockey enthusiasts that want to bring more teams to Texas. This is something crucial for Herman as he pointed out, “I hope to see it continue to grow. It’s a great opportunity for the players so they don’t have to stop playing just because they are going to school.”
Both men have a vast amount of experience dealing with hockey which is why they continue to work towards the same goal and that is to help hockey prosper. In order for hockey to thrive in Texas, the people involved decided to create the Texas Collegiate Hockey Conference (TCHC). The reasons why TCHC was created was to ensure that everyone would be able to follow the rules while communicating with one another and to help the hockey programs prosper throughout Texas. When asked why it was created, Tom Herman stated “it was formed to give Texas Hockey structure, teams now have a set schedule along with a playoff format.” The reason why TCHC is so crucial is because this is how the program will be able to be recognized and thrive. For Boyle’s reasoning, he states that the “two main things will be much better communication between teams and that all teams will be following ACHA/TCHC bylaws and rules.”
For any person who does not follow hockey, you might feel flabbergasted when you hear that there are indeed hockey teams in Texas that are a part of the TCHC. “It is a new Texas Conference at the club hockey level. There are two divisions; each division plays a home and home series. You also play cross division games” Herman stated. The TCHC is a conference within the ACHA Western Division 2 region where there are 8 teams from two divisions; the North and South Divisions. These two divisions then compete with each other in order to proceed to the final round which is the play-offs to determine the winner of the hockey tournament. The North Division consists of Texas Tech University, Dallas Baptist University, Texas Christian University (TCU) and University of North Texas (UNT). The South Division consists of the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Texas State University, Texas A&M, University of Texas at Austin.
The TCHC is headed toward a path that will encourage all ages to pick up that hockey stick and puck while promoting the importance of community to each player and fan. Community outreach is something that gives those future hockey players and fans the opportunity to understand that although they are committed to this game, they are also committed to the city in which they live in. Boyle believes that continuing this will reveal how important these programs are for all ages. “I will do my best to continue promoting youth hockey. The A&M team goes into elementary schools and in the past helped with programs at the local rink. So we will continue going into schools and doing our part to make sure young kids know about hockey and act as positive role models,” Boyle said. Thus paving a way to the attention that will improve these programs to the point that there will be an increase in potential hockey players in Texas. There is no doubt that hockey will continue to grow in Texas because in our state sports are a part of us; we grow up playing and learning about them. This is something that is not going to be stopped any time soon. “It will be great to see more Texas teams join each year. There is plenty of room for growth and it all starts at the local level. In El Paso, we are always looking for ways to grow our youth program and give the players the opportunity to grow within our own age organization. With the UTEP Hockey Club, we can now offer hockey at every age group” said Herman.
For now, the focus is on the upcoming season and whether this new conference will increase the chances of the attention that TCHC needs to achieve these goals. No matter what happens, the people devoted to these programs in Texas are ready to give it their all. When asked about the enthusiasm for the coaches, fans and players because of the conference, Boyle stated “I think it will be very exciting to the coaches in the fact that hopefully it will help them in recruiting. For players, that all depends on the school. Some schools at this point are at different points in their programs maturation, but of course all players get a little more amped knowing that each game counts in standings towards a play-off seeding.” Despite the differences in the programs level of development, it will not prevent any team from becoming pumped throughout their time on the team. This is something that Boyle and many others believe what will increase the game play as soon as they skate onto the ice. “And the fans, it would be nice to see college hockey on the same level as some of the major football/basketball conferences and bring in more fans to each game. I know UTEP brings in a ton of fans and for some other schools it depends on who they are playing, but it would be nice to see packed houses each night.”
In the end what matters most is that the TCHC continues to work toward their goals in positive attention to the hockey world and those who are unfamiliar to it. The key is to never lose sight of that objective and continue to strive toward accomplishing it. “The goal of the TCHC for hockey in Texas is to bring a more positive light to the college hockey programs in the state and attract the more skilled players that are heading out of Texas to play elsewhere at this point in time due to perception of college hockey here in the state,” Boyle said.
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