Adult athletics is a vital part of the Bozeman area, promoting community, sportsmanship, and fitness. However, teams who play purely for the love of the game and without sponsorship or school affiliation face many real challenges in sustaining their sport. To get more information, EndZone got in touch with Joe Vasarella, a Manhattan resident currently playing for the Old Crush adult hockey team.
EZ: Thanks for speaking with us today, Joe. How has the season been going for you?
JV: Very well. There is a lot of very good talent in this year’s league and that has made for some entertaining games.
EZ: Can you tell us about yourself and your background in hockey?
JV: As a child I loved the game of hockey and never had the opportunity to play in an organized league. Five years ago I met an individual that invited me to play on their team and I have been playing with them ever since.
EZ: Being a father with a full-time job, how do you manage to juggle it all?
JV: It is difficult. All of my children have their own sports and activities that they participate in and it does over-lap during my hockey season. We do our best to organize a schedule to make it to all of their events as well as be able to make it to my games. Most of my games are scheduled anytime between 7 to 10:30 pm, as well as several at 6:30 am. As I start my workday at 3:30 am, it does sometimes make for rather long days.
EZ: Your team is affiliated with the Bozeman Amateur Hockey Association (BAHA), correct?
JV: Yes, that is correct.
EZ: Tell us about the Bozeman Amateur Hockey Association.
JV: It is an organization for youth and adult hockey in the Gallatin Valley. More information can be found on their website at bozemanhockey.org.
EZ: For those interested, how does one become involved with an adult hockey team?
JV: Sign-ups are in September. You sign up on their website based off of your skill level. There is several different leagues; you can sign up on how you rate and your level of previous hockey experience. The skill levels take into account if you have never played all the way up to playing in the NHL. If you are not affiliated with a team already, that’s ok, they will make a new team or place you on one based off the needs of the association at that time.
EZ: From roller derby to baseball to hockey and more, the opportunities for adult athletics in Bozeman are endless. How integral do you think adult athletics has been in your own life and to the community?
JV: It has become a very important part of my life. I enjoy the sport and being able to share that experience with other members of the community has been great. I have met many people from all walks of life through this activity, and it has been great to be able to socialize with others who love the sport as well. I believe having an association where adult community members can pursue their love of sports is a valuable part of living here in Bozeman.
EZ: In what ways can the people of Bozeman support the athletic community?
JV: There is a lot of need for upgrades in all of the sports played in the valley. Several of the issues we have [is] with times that ice is available—[which] will be helped once the second sheet of ice is completed. At this time the rink is open daily from 6:30 am to midnight with the Ice Dogs, Bozeman Stingers, youth hockey programs, figure skating clubs, and BAHA all competing for ice time. As well as the rink being rented out for private parties and open skating for families.
EZ: Thank you so much for your time, Joe. Good luck on the remainder of the season!
Community members wishing to support these fantastic winter athletes may contribute to ‘Raise the Ice Barn.’ To donate or request further information, visit gallatinicefoundation.org. For a full schedule of adult hockey games, visit www.bozemanhockey.org. •