This past July hockey players from around the globe gathered in Fort Wayne, IN for a chance to play against their peers. Among them were six local players.
The State Wars Tournament had 289 teams from 11 different countries including six boys from the Madison Hockey League (MHL). The boys played on four different teams that were organized by age group with the teams ultimately finished with gold, silver and two fourth places, respectively.
Since 2005, the State Wars Tournament has brought together the best players in each age group from each state, country or region. Players tryout for spots on the teams. Players from the Madison Hockey League were on four separate teams representing Virginia.
Madison Hockey League Commissioner Terri Sisson said the tournament provided the Madison boys with tremendous opportunities in the sport and in life.
“State Wars is an amazing opportunity for these players,” said Sisson. “Not only do they get a chance to play with the best players in their age group, they have a chance to meet people from all over the world. There are also pro hockey players there, too. The boys have a chance to see the very best in the sport and to play with the best of their age group.”
Sharon Taylor, a former league commissioner and mother of one of the players, agreed with Sisson and added that the local league offers both boys and girls of all ages a chance to experience the sport. The Madison Hockey League has been providing youth in Madison and surrounding areas an opportunity to try recreational roller hockey since the mid-1990s. A travel team plays teams from Richmond, Warrenton, Winchester and Fredericksburg.
“People don’t think of Madison for their hockey,” said Taylor. “There are a lot of people that still don’t know about the MHL. Our kids started when my nephews who are a few years older gave them some outgrown gear. Now Cole who is 15, eats, sleeps and breathes hockey. Hockey has given him the opportunity to travel and meet people from all over. He attended a college prospect training camp in Milwaukee this past summer and hopes to be able to play in college.”
In the early days of the Madison Hockey League, games were played with a ball on tennis courts behind the American Legion building. Today, there is a regulation hockey rink, complete with nets and a poly surface behind the American Legion.
Former league commissioner Rodney Taylor said the rink was built after a forest fire destroyed the area in 2011.
“A power line came down and caught the trees on fire all through here,” said Taylor. “Everything all through here was burned to the ground. The asphalt buckled from the fire, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. We were able to use the money we had and the insurance money to build this.”
For Jacob Sikora, the high point of the State Wars Tournament was the opportunity to watch and meet professional hockey players.
“The pro games draw a lot of interest,” said Sikora. “You could hardly find a seat at those games.”
Cole Taylor found the tournament helpful for sharpening his skills and meeting new friends.
“It was an honor to be able to play with the best players and teams,” said Taylor. “It’s also fun to meet new people. We end up making new friends and trading jerseys with players from all over. This year I traded jerseys with players from New York and Georgia.”
Andrew Sisson, another MHL player that participated in the State Wars Tournament agreed with Taylor.
“It’s great to meet new people,” said Sisson. “There were teams from all over, even Namibia. It felt good to represent our state and I hope to be able to do it again. This is something I’ve been doing for a while. When I was 4, I thought my brother was the coolest. He started playing hockey so I followed and started too.”
For more information about the Madison Hockey League, visit https://www.madisonhockey.com/.