ROGER BACON HIGH SCHOOL UNDERWATER HOCKEY TEAM TO PLAY IN U.S.A. UNDERWATER HOCKEY’S 2019 U.S. NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIPS
Players to compete in Orlando, Florida, June 21 – 23, 2019
Cincinnati, Ohio – The Roger Bacon High School Underwater Hockey Team will compete in the USA Underwater Hockey 2019 U.S. National Championships to be hosted by the Orlando Underwater Hockey Club at the Rosen YMCA Aquatic and Family Center in Orlando, Florida, on June 21, 22, and 23, 2019.
Roger Bacon continues to have the only high school underwater hockey team in the United States. Their competition in the U.S.A. Underwater Hockey 2019 U.S. National Championships will be college teams from the University of Florida, Michigan State University, the University of Illinois, the University of Minnesota, George Mason University, the University of North Carolina, and Georgia Tech University, and community teams from Washington DC, Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, San Diego, Orlando, and Seattle. Roger Bacon will be sending one squad, the Varsity Team, to the national championships.
The Roger Bacon “Spartans” have had great success when competing at the annual U.S.A. Underwater Hockey U.S. National Championships. Roger Bacon won back-to-back U.S. National Championships in the “B” Division, claiming the title first in 2010 at the University of Florida and then in 2011 in Santa Clarita, California. In addition, Roger Bacon previously won two other national titles: In 2001, the Roger Bacon Varsity Team won the gold medal in the “C” Division at the 2001 U.S.A. Underwater Hockey U.S. National Championships in San Jose and then, in 2007, Varsity won a second gold medal in the “C” Division when they competed at the University of Minnesota. Over the years, the Roger Bacon “Spartans” have had tremendous success playing underwater hockey in numerous regional, national, and international tournaments.
Incoming Roger Bacon senior and team president Conor Healy ‘20, says, “We have a very young team this year, and we are building for the future. We are happy to be going to the National Championships so that our younger players can gain valuable experience against tough competition. Nevertheless, it will be a fun tournament!”
Earlier this year in March 2019, the Roger Bacon Varsity Team finished in 6th place in the “B” Division at the University of Guelph’s annual underwater hockey tournament in Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
Roger Bacon’s head coach is Dr. Paul Wittekind, a member of the Roger Bacon High School faculty and the chair of the Social Studies Department. Mr. David Dozer is the team’s assistant coach. Dr. Wittekind came to Roger Bacon from The Ohio State University, where he and Mr. Dozer played on that school’s underwater hockey team.
In July 2002, Wittekind and Dozer coached the U.S. Junior National Underwater Hockey Team to a silver medal finish at the 2002 World Underwater Hockey Championships in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. This was the first silver medal ever won by any American team in the biennial World Underwater Hockey Championships. Many Roger Bacon students were members of the 2002 U.S. Junior National Team. Wittekind again coached the U.S. Junior National Underwater Hockey Team in the August 2006 CMAS World Championships held in Sheffield, England and in August 2012 at the Americas Cup Underwater Hockey Championships. As in 2002, several Roger Bacon students were members of the U.S. Junior National Team in 2006 and in 2012.
Rooted in the Franciscan values of holiness and learning, self-discipline and compassion, Roger Bacon High School is a Catholic, co-educational high school that develops the hearts, minds and bodies of its students in a caring and challenging environment. Roger Bacon High School is a coed Roman Catholic high school run by the Franciscans in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Mr. Tom Burke ‘69 is the president of Roger Bacon, and Mr. Steve Schad is the school’s principal. For more information about the underwater hockey team, please visit http://www.rogerbacon.org/students-parents/student-activities/underwater-hockey .
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON UNDERWATER HOCKEY:
Played in swimming pools, underwater hockey has co-ed teams with six players in the water at any given time, while four players are substitutes waiting at the end of the pool. Players may substitute freely during the game. Games consist of two 15 minute halves with a five minute halftime.
The three-meter-long goals are on the bottom of the pool at each end of the pool. Play begins with a “face off” in which both teams push off their respective walls toward the puck, which lies on the bottom of the middle of the pool. Each team passes the puck around, attempting to shoot the puck into the goal defended by the opposing team. This means that players must be good swimmers with the ability to hold their breath long enough for them to swim to the bottom of the pool, receive the puck, move with the puck while swimming along horizontally only an inch or so off the bottom of the pool, look for a teammate and pass off, before returning to the surface. While on the surface, players breathe through their snorkels, allowing them to remain face-down in the pool to watch the action beneath them and to re-enter play. On defense, players swim down in front of oncoming opponents to take the puck away and return to the offensive. After either team scores a goal, the puck is returned to the middle of the pool by one of the two in-pool referees and another face off resumes play with both teams again starting from their respective ends of the pool.
The mask allows the player to see the play in the pool, and together with the snorkel, protects the player’s face. Fins help the swimmer to move quickly through the water. USA Underwater Hockey, part of the Underwater Society of America (USOA), is the governing body for underwater hockey in the United States. USA Underwater Hockey requires that all underwater hockey players wear a water polo helmet and a mouthpiece that fits over the snorkel for the player’s safety. The water polo helmet is designed to protect a swimmer’s ears. Each player pushes the puck along the bottom of the pool with an approximately one foot long underwater hockey stick, made out of either wood or a plastic polymer. When playing games, underwater hockey teams are divided into black and white by the color of their sticks and their water polo helmets (the color of their swimming suits is not a factor). Each player also wears a single heavy-duty glove on their stick hand to protect their hand from contact with the bottom of the pool and the puck. The gloves are reinforced with duct tape over the last two knuckles of each finger to protect the hand from contact with the bottom of the pool; each glove is reinforced with caulk which strengthens the glove, protecting the hand from contact with either the puck or another player’s stick.
Success ultimately depends on teamwork, especially the ability to pass the puck among teammates. Individual strength is less of an advantage than it is in many other sports. The water nullifies pure mass advantage and emphasizes the clever use of torque to “throw” the puck with the stick when passing to a teammate or when scoring a goal. Important player qualities are overall physical fitness and conditioning and dexterity in handling the puck with their stick.