After the preaching, the singing and the amens, the hockey comes right after that each Sunday in LaGrange.
It is a ritual of sorts for the weekend warriors. The LaGrange Street Hockey League has two matches each Sunday at the Mike Daniel Recreation Center. The guys -and sometimes the girls – play for blood, and they play for the heck of it.
They play all out while outfitted in knee pads, leg guards, hockey sticks and stiff upper lips. Joseph Shaw takes part every weekend in this hockey frenzy in Troup County.
“We’re family. We sweat together, and we play together. We are getting our cardio, and we’re becoming team players,” said Shaw.
With a Sunday afternoon grin he added, “This is war. We’re battling. This takes drive and consistency.”
It also takes one other thing.
“Hockey takes athleticism,” said Shaw.
Brad Smith of Newnan takes the short drive to La-Grange each Sunday for some hockey of a highly competitive nature.
“This takes stamina. Hockey is good exercise. You get to use your intellect. You can go from offense to defense in a matter of seconds,” said Smith.
He scored four goals in the two street hockey matches on Sunday.
“I’m coming into my own as a goal scorer. We have some good two-way players (offense-to-defense),” said Smith.
Jay Clarke, a 25-yearold, is another Sunday hockey convert. He is proud to call himself a player and something else.
“I’m a hockey nerd. I like scoring goals and passing the puck. I love hockey. I have a lot of grit and determination,” said Clarke.
Ajith Shajan of Columbus is learning the game rapidly, thanks to players like Clarke and Smith. Shajan was in the middle of the mayhem on Sunday afternoon in LaGrange.
“I’ve never played hockey before. It is harder than I thought, but it is fun. You need some handeye coordination and you need teamwork,” said Shajan.
Glenn Cunningham and Brett Miolen of LaGrange are the founders of the local hockey league. Both Miolen and Cunningham play the game, too, at a high level.
They promote, and they teach. They also compete and drop some hockey hints during the Sunday matches.
“Our players are coming from Pine Mountain and Heard County. We are getting some players from Columbus. And we have our regulars from Troup County,” said Cunningham. “We are in a competitive hockey area.”
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Chris Fernsler Sports Writer