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Team has a trophy and no place to put it

Published Aug. 23, 1998|Updated Sep. 13, 2005

Last weekend, a group of mostly inexperienced Citrus County roller hockey players went to Spring Hill to compete in a high school tournament.

They came back with a third-place trophy.

Now they are looking for a place to put it.

Ed Wisniewski and Tim Peleshok are the coaches of the 12-member team that recently formed and is now hoping to get the approval of area schools so it can participate in more high school tournaments.

"What we're trying to do is promote roller hockey in this county and eventually have it become a high school team or at least a club team," said Wisniewski, a former hockey player. "A lot of colleges have roller hockey (club) programs. And many are talking about adding scholarships soon. By the time these kids get ready to graduate, there will be scholarships ready to be eaten up."

In the Aug. 15 tournament at the Suncoast Entertainment Center in Spring Hill, the Citrus County team competed against squads with students from Springstead, Ridgewood and Central high schools.

Normally, only teams associated with high schools are allowed to participate in the various tournaments held around the state, but when tournament officials were one team short, they invited the Citrus team.

In Hernando County, roller hockey teams are permitted to use the name of a high school, which allows them to participate in area tournaments. Springstead sponsors two teams. Pinellas County also has club roller hockey teams, although the schools don't hand out any financial assistance.

The Citrus County team, which currently has no name, would like to have the same opportunity.

"There are a lot of people that know how to play around here, they just don't have anywhere to play," said David Peleshok, 15, a student at Citrus High who began playing while living in Canada.

Wisniewski said Citrus High officials told him they aren't interested in forming a club team, and Crystal River principal Craig Marlett also declined but offered to help form a county team. Wisniewski and Peleshok said more is needed.

"The kids need to be representatives of a school," Wisniewski said. "They have a trophy and no place to put it."

Unless the Florida High School Activities Association sanctions roller hockey as a team sport, it's unlikely area schools will support club teams _ at least anytime soon _ school officials said.

"It just doesn't work that way," said Citrus athletic director Vicki Overman. "The FHSAA would have to recognize it for us to be involved. We don't have intramurals or anything like that for any sports and we don't have club sports."

Wisniewski and Peleshok said they aren't asking for any financial assistance from the schools, just the privilege of using the school name so they can attend the monthly tournaments.

Right now, the team pays its own way into the tournaments (last weekend's fee was $200) and wears jerseys borrowed from other teams.

Overman understands the team's concerns, but said there just is no place for the team.

"We just have never done it (sponsor club teams)," Overman said. "Our facility is used so much and all our people seem to be spread pretty thin, so it would be tough to add. We offer a pretty full realm of sports. We try to meet the kids' needs _ we have 27 or 28 things for them to choose from. We're pretty much filled up."

Peleshok and Wisniewski also coach a competitive roller hockey team called the Daisies that won a national championship in 1997 with players from Pasco, Hernando and Citrus counties.

They plan to continue to lobby for club teams for the area's increasing number of interested players.

"It's a growing sport," Peleshok said. "There are so many kids that don't know how to play but would like to learn. How else can you get kids in 100-degree temperatures, in all this equipment, to come out here if they weren't having fun. All we're asking for is to be a club (team) so we can associate their names and be allowed to attend tournaments. It's growing, but these kids are going to be left behind."