Hockey is returning to Baylor

Daniel Atkins is excited about bringing hockey back to Baylor. Although there isn't an ice rink in Waco, the team has come up with creative ways to work around it. Photo credit: Courtesy Photo

By Kamri Alexander | Reporter

Many don’t know that Baylor used to have a hockey team. But after a long hiatus, Baylor is introducing an ice hockey club on campus. Starting the team has been a labor of love for club president Waco junior Daniel Atkins and Flower Mound graduate student Blake Bonner. After a year of work, the team is set to compete this fall semester.

Atkins said he felt like the idea of starting the club was something that God was leading him to do.

“I woke up one morning in January [2020] and I just felt this incredible calling on my heart,” Atkins said. “Looking back it was just this massive God thing. He was like ‘you have to do this.’”

Atkins said being led by God to try and start the club aligns with the teams values.

“I really want to be known as a great fraternity of Christian men,” Atkins said.

Atkins has been working closely with the sports ministry at George W. Truett Theological Seminary. The team is being provided a chaplain and Atkins has been offered resources for leading the team. Atkins said hockey in Texas isn’t usually known for being religious, but this team wants to be centered around the Gospel and making it known.

Atkins isn’t the only person on the team with high goals. The head coach, Frisco junior Joseph Crump, plans to lead the team to success with his years of experience in the sport.

Crump and Atkins both got their start in ice hockey with youth hockey through the Dallas Stars. Crump’s beginning, however, grew into a dream of going pro. At the age of 13 he began living in host homes, traveling to play youth and junior hockey. He’s moved all around the nation, even Canada, and played at the University of Michigan-Dearborn on a scholarship for two years until he had to stop due to injury. However, all of those experiences as well as being led by gifted coaches, he says, has prepared him for this moment.

“I’ve had some bad coaches and a lot of really good ones,” Crump said. “Just being able to learn from the best and kind of take little things from each one of those coaches that made them my favorites and made them so good at their job. Trying to implement that, and put my own spin on it and make it my own style of what they do is something I’m confident I can do.”

The team’s most difficult obstacle is that there is no ice rink within an 80 mile radius of Waco for them to practice on. To get around this, the team will practice on roller skates in Bellmead once a week. Though there’s some differences between roller skating and ice skating, for some of the players, their love of ice hockey was bred from their experience in roller hockey. Despite the challenge, Atkins said he believes that the team will be able to overcome it.

The club is confident that they will bring fierce competition to this league. Their schedule is filled with familiar Texas schools, and though Texas is known for football, 40% of Baylor’s students are from out of state. Atkins says this means that there is an audience of students who grew up loving ice hockey that they can reach through their club.

“I’m super excited about the team,” Frisco senior Kaitlyn Lack said. “Growing up in Maryland, we always watched ice hockey so it’s cool to see the sport get some spotlight on campus.”

Both Atkins and Crump said that the best way to support the team is to attend games and follow them on Instagram. Their games will primarily take place in Cedar Park, Mansfield and College Station. The team will also be selling jerseys later in the semester that students and fans can buy.