Tabor Hockey League (affectionately known as the THL-pronounced CHEL) just ended their season with the third annual Tucker “Five Hole” Francis ’16 Cup. I don’t need to say which team, red or black, won as that is the last thing on their minds. They are there to have fun, and for this event, to remember one of their founding members who passed away two years ago.
Tucker was one of the original captains in his senior year, the first year of THL. He created the logo and the motto (“Be Nice! THL Baby!”) which is not surprising because he loved this idea of kids just getting together to play and have some goofy fun. Ability is not the point, it is camaraderie. And if they enhance some skating and shooting skills, great! For Tucker, and all the THLers, THL is about showing up with good humor, enjoying the game and sharing some memorable time together laughing, singing, dancing and spinning some tunes while playing a game they love.
THL is mainly for junior and senior boys, with some exceptions. They are able to skate in this intramural-like program as their after-school commitment, and the all-girl select line of senior girls joins in on Monday nights. Because Monday games are typically at night, these girls and some boys are able to stick with other co-curriculars such as photo pool or debate etc. Each game has a musical theme, some past favorites include: THLvis Presley Day around The King's birthday on January 8, THL Love Songs at morning skates at 6:30am on Fridays, Run T-H-L (old school rap), Classic THL (Classic Rock Day), and of course, Tucker’s Spotify play list for the memorial game.
Kenny Ackerman is the commissioner and the main instigator of the fun. “I have many great memories of THL over these past four years and most of them include laughing, smiling, dancing, and hanging with these great THLers.” Ackerman has a funny nickname for each player such as Jack “Baby Bar” Benway, THL League Manager. Jack is the Official Scorer and Director of Tunes & Music Mixology, who supervises the scorer's table and all THL entertainment. Ackerman hopes the humor provides a low stress outlet, and low expectations on athletic performance…not laziness, just a more casual fun form of play where the kids can be ok making mistakes and learning to play the great game of ice hockey. He hopes students will learn to love the game, maybe playing in adult amateur leagues down the road.
To get things organized, Ackerman helps the students get outfitted for play. He shares a full list of equipment needs and encourages kids to borrow what they can, or to join the fall shopping trip to the used sporting goods store. This helps keep the costs down for kids who don’t usually play the game.
The team has on and off ice time meetings, including practice, games, study hall and some bonding nights required. Off-ice days are 60-minute workouts that include games in Turf Hockey, Intramural Basketball, Mile-Run, Bowling, Can-Jam, Flag Football, Ice Cream, Burritos, Cross-Fit workouts, etc. One of the highlights of the season was when some of the Varsity Boys Hockey players, Ian “Gordie” Gindhart, Morgan “Filthy” Winters, Brian “Wheelhouse” Wiles, Shane “Clapper” Coen and Alex “Bar Down” Bower, came out to help the THL with some skating, stopping, shooting, and falling-with-grace skills. A little community service to help get them going in the right direction! After that workshop, they play the Sughrue Holiday Cup in December before study hall allowing many fellow Seawolves to come cheer them on.
There is no whining, no profanity, no checking or arguing with the student referees. There is also no icing and no offsides and the three lines—Premier Line, Elite Line, and Special Line (sometimes four when the Select girls join on Mondays)—play 90 second shifts of running time for three 18-minute periods. The basic charge is: Be nice! Have fun! Bust your butt to the puck! Respect the great game of Ice Hockey!
Sounds like one of the best games in town!
Hat’s off to the THL Administration:
Mr. James (Jay) Houck - THL Deputy Commissioner. All disputes, fines, suspensions, etc., must be resolved through the THL Deputy Commissioner. He can be reached at 1-800-HOUCKSTER.
Mr. Kenneth J. (Ack) Ackerman - THL Co-Commissioner, THL CEO, Head Linesman & Chief Executive of THL Communications. Ack handles all day-to-day operations of the THL and skates like the wind!
Mr. Derek Krein - THL Co-Commissioner, Vice President of Hockey Competition & THL Business Development, General Manager and THL Referee. Mr. Krein brings great expertise in marketing the THL brand.
Mr. O. Steve Sughrue - THL Fanatic and Greatest THL Fan of All Time. Mr. Sughrue brings his smile to each and every game and never heckles the poor officiating.
Mr. Gerald Dineen - THL Advisor and Confidant. Mr. Dineen gives seminars on the “future of the THL game” and handles all scouting for the THL.