When Ithaca College varsity sports conclude for the day, Glazer Arena usually sits silent and deserted. However, late on Tuesday nights, it is filled with the clattering of stick against stick and triumphant cheers as students slap around a ball during the intramural floor hockey league.
A blue and a white team face off on either side of the arena, their shirts varying shades of their designated colors. Players all wear helmets, and the goalies are clad head to toe in pads, but the sound of laughter is far louder than the typical grunts and thuds of competition. They sprint up and down the floor, colliding with one another and joking as a teammate confuses the color of the out-of-bounds line or shouting “Attaboy!” as their goalie makes a save.
Everyone on the floor, from the players to the scorekeepers, is a student, and the intramural sport has become a haven for anyone with a background in hockey, whether it be on the floor, ice or a field. Floor hockey is also the only intramural sport available for Spring 2019 that is played in Glazer Arena instead of the Fitness Center.
The dividing nets are brought down over the center of the arena and games are played five versus five on each half. Sophomore Brandon Ventura is the captain of the floor hockey team called Buffalo Wild Wings and has also participated in intramural basketball in the past. He said playing in Glazer makes the games feel more serious and legitimate.
“Compared to intramural basketball, this feels way more big and cool,” Ventura said. “It feels a little weird because there were three games going at a time for basketball, but, for this, we’re boxed in, so you can really just focus on the game.”
Ventura played ice hockey all throughout high school and said he missed being involved with the sport. Ventura recently switched majors from music to sports media, and he said that because of this his schedule is too intense to manage the commitment of club ice hockey. Intramural floor hockey provides the perfect place for him to continue competing at a laid-back level.
Though it is an intramural, Ventura said that he and his teammates take their games seriously and approach them with a competitive mindset.
“We all get kind of nervous,” Ventura said. “One of our friends who’s our goalie found out what hockey was like a year ago, so he always gets nervous. We get here a little early to scope everything out. We just don’t want to get embarrassed.”
All of the floor hockey teams are co-ed, and Ventura said he enjoys playing with the women on his team.
“It’s a lot of fun,” he said. “They’re so fun to play with, and we don’t really care about the outcome.”
Senior Nora Borgos’ team, Styx, defeated Ventura’s on April 9 by a score of 9–3. Borgos said she got involved with floor hockey because she played field hockey before college and was excited by the opportunity to try out a similar sport. However, she found that the field and the floor were not as similar as she expected.
“When I went the first day I thought I was going to be so good at it, and I was not,” Borgos said. “I kept going to turn the stick over because field hockey you can only use one side of the stick. I felt like a fish out of water at first, but it ended being totally fine.”
Senior Oliva Uttaro also plays for Borgos’ team. Like Ventura, she plays intramural sports because she misses being involved with athletics like during her high school days. However, she had almost no experience with hockey before joining the floor hockey team.
“I had only ever played in gym class,” Uttaro said. “I played soccer, so I know how to be on a field, but I’m just trying my best with the stick.”
Despite the learning curve, Uttaro said that she likes playing because it keeps her active and competitive.
Even the student referees use the intramural activity as a way to stay active and involved with the sport. Sophomore Collin Bradley officiates several intramural sports at the college but said he enjoys reffing floor hockey because he is a member of the club ice hockey team.
“Most of the games are competitive, but not too many get dirty,” Bradley said. “Refereeing floor hockey is fun because I’m on club hockey. There are some rules that apply in floor hockey but not in ice hockey, but they’re easy to learn.”
Borgos said that although games are from 9 to 11 p.m., she finds floor hockey to be an excellent outlet and a healthy break from her end-of-semester schoolwork.“We all have a really good time with it,” she said. “It’s a really good stress reliever in these weeks leading up to finals, for sure. Even though it is busy, it’s a great time in the school year to have it to go to at night.”