Have you ever heard of the “Cathedral Chatard Blues,” “Hamilton Southeastern Hockey Club, ” or Lawrence Bearcats?” These local high school hockey teams work hard year-round on and off the ice and yet seem to disappear into frigid air. Put another way, unlike some other varsity sports, most people in our community don’t even know they exist.
“These kids are dedicated athletes, committed physically, emotionally and financially,” said Mike Kellermeyer, head coach of the Cathedral Chatard Blues (from here on, referred to as the “Blues”).
“They work hard. They’re just as much athletes as football and basketball players. They put in just as much time and dedication. It’s a joke that some of the kids don’t even know there’s a hockey team within their school.”
Ironically, the Blues is a combined team of Cathedral and Bishop Chatard High Schools, whose school colors both happen to be blue. “These schools are normally big competitors, but hockey breaks up this rivalry and brings these two schools together,” says Warren Culpepper, President of this fine hockey team.
Likewise, the Hamilton Southeastern Hockey Club (HSE) has three different teams (A, B and C), made up of both HSE and Fishers High Schools, who are otherwise enormous rivals in mainstream sports such as football and basketball.
In addition, the Lawrence Bearcats is made up predominantly of students from the Lawrence Central Bears and Lawrence North Wildcats. Hence, the team name is simpy a merging of their school mascots.
“It is great to play on a team that represents the whole town of Fishers. It is awesome to have loyal teammates and friends from both schools,” remarks Todd Jacobs, a senior defenseman on the HSE Varsity A Team.
The Blues, HSE, and Bearcats teams share many common characteristics, in addition to the fact that they include hockey players who began “hitting the ice” around four or five years old.
Not Sanctioned by the School
First, they are not sanctioned by the schools, so they receive no funding. Because hockey is not considered a sport but rather a club, the kids in the public schools do not get the privilege of receiving school varsity letters or jackets. Some believe that this sport is not sanctioned by the schools because it costs too much money and there is not a tremendous amount of players in our schools. Vincent Culpepper, a senior who plays Center on the Blues, says, “I sort of like the way it’s not sanctioned by the schools because it shows how much we love it and how dedicated we really are because we have to pay for everything ourselves.”
Fundraising Necessary to Offset Expense
Secondly, these teams must raise funds in order to afford the extreme expense of ice-time. One hour of ice-time costs around $225. Locally, about 10 teams share the ice at The Forum at Fishers.
The teams practice twice a week for one and a half hours each and then play up to four games on weekends. Although the fundraising varies from team to team, the “Hockey Program Book” accounts for the largest portion of fund-raising. The team’s schedule, rosters and player stats are featured along with ads from generous sponsors.
Incidentally, the HSE teams will be selling calendars portraying “Hockey Moms wearing lipstick” as a spoof off of Sarah Palin’s recent remark about the only thing separating a hockey mom from a pit bull being lipstick. Each page will be dedicated to exemplifying the crazy things that these hockey moms have to put up with in an entertaining way. There will even be a picture of bulldogs (as seen here) to emphasize that these moms truly are tough and strong. If you are interested in supporting HSE Hockey and would like to purchase a calendar, please contact Cindy King at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Academic Standards and Character Development
Another common bond between all these hockey teams is adhering to strict academic standards and shaping character development. This year marks the beginning of a new rule whereby the team managers must forward the grades of players to the ISHSHA (Indiana State High School Hockey Association), showing players have maintained at least a C average. The new rules doesn’t worry these teams because all along they have been enforcing these standards in order to focus on the “Student Athlete.”
The conduct of these athletes is extremely important to the parents. “All the teams exercise discipline to the kids. I am really impressed with the Disciplinary Board, as it will suspend students when necessary. The primary focus is on making great adults, not just great players,” says Cindy King, who has a son on the HSE team.
According to Jim Cochran, President of HSE Hockey Club Inc.: “HSE Hockey has a Code of Conduct that must be signed by the head coach, player and his parents. This is a contract between the Hockey Club and the family. The code spells out exactly what we expect and what we will not tolerate…..including suspensions to expulsions.”
Each player must practice self-control both on and off the ice. A player is not allowed more than four acts of misconduct per season (i.e. swearing to a referee) or he will not be allowed to participate in the state tournament. Likewise, each team as a whole is allowed no more than 10 acts of misconduct.
Character development is definitely taking place on The Blues team this year, which has a girl on its roster. “I love playing on this team. It’s a different experience,” says Grace Kirchgraber, a senior defenseman who previously played on an all-girl’s team for four years. “It’s interesting to see how the guys’ minds work tactically trying to get the puck. They are a little rougher than a girl.”
Her mom, Theresa Rorh-Kirchgraber talks of the support from the boys and how Grace is an inspiration to other young girls who would like to someday play hockey. She says, “Hockey has given Grace a lot of self esteem and self-awareness and has helped her to become a confident woman in today’s world.”
Working Hard On and Off the Ice
During the regular season (August-April), these young athletes dedicate seven hours of practice per week, plus several games per weekend. They travel to other venues such as Fort Wayne, St. Louis, South Bend, Michigan, New York and Cleveland. During the off season, players get involved with hockey camps and work out by conditioning their bodies to maintain their technique, strength and stamina levels.
“The Indiana Hockey players really have to give up things by not hanging out with friends or attending social events and working on homework in order to be a dedicated player. It’s a real sacrifice when you’re committed to hockey five to six days a week,” says Warren Culpepper, who has a senior on the Blues this year.
“I have to give up most big events on the weekend, like Friday night football games and Homecoming because we have to travel so often for out of town games,” says Evan Hupp, a senior defenseman at Fishers High School, who quit football due to scheduling conflicts and chose to play hockey instead.
“It’s great to know that Hockey keeps our kids busy on Friday and Saturday nights,” says Kurt Eichholtz, parent of Luke Eichholtz, a sophomore defenseman on the Bearcats. “But unfortunately, this year, our team will have a game on Halloween and so the kids will not be able to go out with their friends.”
In addition to striving for good grades and maintaining decent behavior, the players are expected to partake in off-ice training such as lifting weights, running and conditioning a couple days a week. When asked if these hockey players work hard, Sara Bolger, a parent of a Blues senior player sums it up well when she replies, “They absolutely do! If they are still playing hockey at this age level, they live and breathe it.”
Mike Berger, head coach of the HSE teams says, “I am so proud as a hockey coach to know that all my players are involved in off-ice activities that serve the community: from working with youth hockey teams to participating in the Little Buddies Program, my players do it all. They also mentor freshman at the high school and tutor other players that struggle in different subjects. I have been extremely blessed to be a part of these young men’s lives and to watch them grow up and graduate from high school.”
“We are dedicated both on and off the ice,” says John Holt, a senior goalie on the HSE A team. “It’s evident in our rankings, not only skillfully, but also every year we rank as one of the top five teams within the state for having the highest overall GPA.”
The HSE teams live by the motto: “Go hard or go home.” This axiom was started by head coach Mike Berger and is lived by each team member. On the other hand, the Blues have their own team slogan started by Tim Bolger, a senior left winger. He’s fond of saying, “98% of the time we work hard every time. The other 2% of the time is just having a good time together, whether we are messing around in the locker room before practices, listening to music, hanging out together on weekends or walking around the halls together at school.”
Marco Caress, a senior defenseman on the Blues, emphasizes how close his teammates are when he says, “We are like a band of brothers. We do everything together from hanging out to having sleepovers to waking up and putting on our dress slacks and ties for our next game. We take care of each other. We’re best friends.”
These hockey teams continue to perform quite well. Last season, the Blues and the HSE A Team both made it to the Indiana State Championship Final Game (each within their own division). Unfortunately, the Blues lost to Evansville and HSE was upset by Culver Military Academy, who recruits players from all around the world. The Bearcats finished in the state’s top eight last season.
“Going to the high school games is a lot of fun in our hockey community,” says Eichholtz, webmaster for the Bearcats team. “These kids from all or our local schools have known eachother since they were really young, playing together in the youth hockey leagues. Although we may be rivals competing with eachother at the high school level, it’s so much fun to reunite and see everyone again!”
“Hockey is one of the most fun and enjoyable sports to watch. With its speed and intensity, it is addictive. Once the HSE hockey season starts, I can’t wait until the next time these talented young men take to the ice,” says Beth Jacobs, an HSE Varsity A mom.
Venture to The Forum at Fishers off of 126th Street and join in on the excitement as you watch these teams play a home game. They would surely appreciate your support! Their schedules are posted on their websites: