Bring hockey back to Waco

By Shae Koharski | Multimedia Journalist

Yes, there was hockey in Waco, and it’s time to bring it back.

Coming from Massachusetts and a big Canadian family, I’ve been a hockey fan my entire life. My whole family works in hockey. My second home is hockey rinks. My teething ring as a child was a hockey puck. Players see me at games and call my family to let them know they’re keeping tabs on me. So when I made the move from Massachusetts to Texas, I don’t think I really contemplated how much I would go through hockey withdrawals.

In Texas, there’s a National Hockey League team, Dallas Stars, as well as two American Hockey League teams, Texas Stars and San Antonio Rampage. Rumor has it that Houston may be getting a team as well after Seattle finishes its expansion in a few years. There are even NHL players who are from Texas. Seth Jones, one of the stars of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets, is from Arlington. Tyler Meyers plays for the Winnipeg Jets and is from Houston. Blake Coleman of the New Jersey Devils is from Plano.

Also, some Texas schools have hockey teams as well. There is a league in Texas called the Texas Collegiate Hockey Conference. TCU and UT Austin are in the conference as well as Texas Tech, Texas A&M and several more. So did hockey skip right over Waco and Baylor?

It turns out that Waco had a hockey team in the late ’90s called the Waco Wizards and played at the Heart of Texas Coliseum. Their last season was in 2000. Shockingly, it looks like Baylor had a hockey team, too. I was looking through Lariat archives to see if Baylor had a team, and the last article written about Baylor’s hockey team was in 2009. From reading, it looks like Baylor had trouble finding ice in town. Their closest practice facility was 85 miles away. An article in September 2009 reports that Waco used to have two ice rinks, but both were turned into roller rinks.

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Baylor’s club hockey team started practicing at the Cedar Park Center, located 85 miles from campus, after its former home, the Dr Pepper Star Center, closed down in 2009.

Lariat File Photo

A lot can change in 10 years. Baylor’s campus is a hub of people from all over the country, and Waco has grown so much in the past few years. The town is now a huge tourist attraction. Even some Baylor students who have never even watched a hockey game could be interested in watching their first if it is in such close proximity. Getting a fan base now would be easier than in the 2000s.

But I think one major thing that needs to happen in the town is getting an ice skating rink (other than the tiny one they bring in for Christmas on 5th). Isn’t basketball getting a new arena? Why not use the Ferrell Center for a rink? It’d be great for not only Baylor students and Waco residents to come to watch a local team, but to also use for public skating. A lot of arenas around the country are used for both basketball and hockey games.

I truly believe Waco has everything it needs to bring a team back, and hockey should return to Waco. I know hockey in the South seems odd, but it is here and thriving. There are teams all around, and there are hockey fans on campus who are probably itching to see some ice. I see you all in your hockey jerseys around campus — I know there are some fans out there.

If you need someone to start the team back up, I’ll have my skates sent down.