Underwater Hockey Makes a Splash in Minnesota

If we have anything in common as the Minnesota people, it’s that we know and love hockey more than anyone else. But underwater hockey – now that’s a whole new wave of fun and games.

What started as a training mechanism for the British Navy in the 1950s is now a fast paced, exciting sport played in over 40 countries by an estimated 15,000 participants, according to ESPN.

Matt Odden, president of the Minnesota Loons Underwater Hockey Club, has a goal of bringing more underwater hockey players to the Twin Cities. “We’re proud of our area and proud of our city, and we want to be kind of a representative, I’d say, for the rest of the US,” he said. “We want to represent underwater hockey here. That’s important to me as the president of this club.

Already, the club practices and scrimmages multiple nights each week at various pools in the Twin Cities: Jean K. Freeman Aquatic Center at the University of Minnesota, Phillips Community Center, and Jimmy Lee Recreation Center. Additionally, it recently hosted The Great Minnesota Wet Together Tournament, which was the club’s first tournament in 8 years.

Underwater hockey is played between two teams of six on the floor of a pool ranging anywhere from 6-12 feet deep. Players use short wooden or plastic sticks to navigate a heavy 3-pound puck into the goal. As far as equipment goes, they can wear fins, masks, snorkels, gloves and headgear. The sport is non-contact and requires an exceptional amount of teamwork and focus.

“This is the first sport where I’m so focused, I can’t think about anything else,” said Christina Odden, membership coordinator of Minnesota Loons Underwater Hockey. “You get there and you go in the water and it’s all silent, and nobody can really talk to you, and I’m just calm and so distracted by the sport.”

Underwater hockey is a game that requires intense physical stamina and strong swimming abilities.

“We definitely have competitive people, so they’re more than welcome, but we also have people who are just there for fun,” Odden said. “I think the spectrum is very wide. I think it’s a very open sport. ”

The sport sees people from a wide variety of backgrounds: soccer, ice hockey, swimming, running, scuba diving, and biking – just to name a few. There are also people starting without any prior experience.

Whether you are a seasoned athletic expert or just looking to try something new, Aimed to teach and support newbies who have never played the sport, the Minnesota Loons Underwater Hockey Club offers new member meetups that will run them through the basics, pair them with an expert, and let them try the underwater sport for themselves.

Odden recommends the sport to anyone who is genuinely interested in finding a community in the Twin Cities.

“Obviously we can’t talk in the pool, so we spend a lot of time outside the pool hanging out and forming your own community,” he said. “If you’re open to meeting new people, that’s great. If you’re competitive, that’s awesome. There’s kind of a space for everybody. ”

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