Devil Dogs stick and roll
By Sgt. Kimberly S. Leone
| | June 07, 2002
MARINE CORPS RECRUIT DEPOT SAN DIEGO, Calif. --
The first ever Southern California Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego In-Line Hockey Tournament featuring teams made up entirely of Marines from the region's bases took over Sportsplex USA in Poway, May 26.
The tournament brought the MCRD Devil Dogs away from Memorial Day barbecues and family reunions to celebrate the long weekend in a different way, highlighted by the spirit of competition and the comraderie of fellow Marines.
The Devil Dogs faced off against their first competitor, the Gatekeepers from Marine Corps Air Station, Miramer, at just after 9 a.m. It would be five games and several hours later before the teams knew who took championship honors.
The Depot's gold, black and red battled quick offense to defense transitions from the Gatekeepers. Despite a strong offensive force, the final buzzer found the Devil Dog's just shy of victory as they gave up their first game to the Gatekeepers, 2-3.
The Devil Dogs sweated and swung their way through the competition. The young team resigned themselves to narrow losses to the strong sticks and blades of the Miramar varsity squad, 29 Palms team, and the Camp Pendleton representatives.
A succession of near misses did not slow the Devil Dogs down as they headed into their third game of the day against the Forerunners of MCAS Miramar.
The Devil Dogs left their competitors with their skates in the sand and wishing for a mercy rule. The MCRD team skated away with a 9-0 vistory.
As competition wrapped up, the Devil Dogs found themselves finishing fourth overall.
"Overall this tournament was a complete success," said Lt. Col. Daniel A. Choike, Devil Dogs coach and event organizer. "We have to give credit to the Sportsplex facility for helping us to create an opportunity for Marine to come together over the Memorial Day weekend in the spirit of competition."
Choike, an avid supporter of in-line hockey, sees events like the tournament as essential to the continued growth of in-line hockey and organized athletic competition within the Marine Corps.
"This is a fast growing sport and Marines, especially new, young Marines need to know that there is a sport offering organized competition they can participate in while in the Corps," Choike said.
Event organizers from Marine Corps Community Services echo Choike's enthusiasm.
"We'd like to see this become an annual event for Memorial Day weekend," said Brent Poser, deputy director, Marine Corps Community Services, MCRD San Diego. "It's great that MCCS supported this."
While the tournament provided the ideal forum for Marines already playing in-line hockey to compete, organizers and players agreed the tournament served another vital purpose.
"Recruiting!" offered Lt. Col. Daniel J. Choike, coach and player, MCRD Devil Dogs.
The success of this year's tournament was encouraging for event organizers.
Lieutenant Col. id Houck, director of MCCS programs aboard MCRD, is supportive of organized athletic events for Marines. But as with most MCCS programs, participation is a large factor in continued funding.
With players coming from as far away as 29 Palms, organizers are optimistic about the future of the in-line hockey tournament.
That is good news for one especially enthusiastic player from the desert.
Sergeant Jason Cortright journeyed from Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow, Calif. to join the roster of the 29 Palms team. He's a lone in-line hockey player on his base.
"I love the game and I love the camaraderie of Marines," Cortright said. "I could play with civilian teams closer to Barstow, but I'd rather play with Marines."
Marines interested in in-line hockey teams and events should contact Lt. Col. Daniel A. Choike at (619) 524-4328.