As a recovering addict, 46-year-old Craig Thompson knows the value of the pickup roller hockey games he helps host each weekend on the Payson High School outdoor basketball courts.
“In a small town like Payson, there is not much for kids to do, which can lead them to trouble. These games can help by giving them something (to participate in),” he said. “It (street hockey) is one of the hottest sports around.”
He calls the group of about 10 persons who now meet at 2 p.m. each Saturday to play, “almost like a family,” and promises that those who turn out to play will “soon be hooked on the sport.”
John Lake, pastor of the Church on Randall Place in Pine, agrees, “We want more (players) to come out, and we don’t care about age — everyone who tries will really enjoy (the sport).”
Lake’s interest in the sport was piqued as a youngster growing up in Phoenix playing both ice and street hockey.
“I grew up in the sport and began playing it pretty competitively in junior high and on through college,” he said.
That interest might seem strange to some who know Lake as formerly one of the most accomplished professional mountain bike riders in Arizona.
The weekly hockey games last about two hours and are comprised of two teams chosen “by throwing our sticks in a pile and then picking them out to choose the teams.”
The teams then clash under most of the rules that govern ice hockey, except for a few differences.
The object of the game, however, remains to shoot the puck into the other team’s net.”
Thompson promises to newcomers interested in playing, there is plenty of equipment to go around, and the competition — while fair handed — can get spirited, and “there’s nothing like the thrill of scoring your first goal.”
Both Thompson and Lake have issued a public invitation to play, saying those interested should simply show up at game time on Saturdays and be ready for plenty of fun, exercise and good times.
For more information, call Thompson at (928) 595-0200.