For 13 years, Jerry Remsbecker has been the adviser and coach to the K-State Inline Hockey Club.
Remsbecker got involved when with the team after seeing them practice near Goodnow Hall.
“We’ve been working at it, they get better and better and I’m becoming a better coach,” Remsbecker said. “My goal is to make everyone who shows up a better hockey player.”
This year’s team is 11-2-4 in league play and has ambitions to make it to the 2012 national tournament, a feat they have not achieved since 2002. The Wildcats are ranked second in Division II of the Great Plains Collegiate Inline Hockey League. The team currently competes in Division II due to level of competition, but Remsbecker said he hopes to change that once the multi-activity court gym is completed at the Peters Recreation Complex.
Currently, the team practices at a rink in Junction City, which costs them nearly $5,000 a year to rent and they do not host any home games. Remsbecker said this will change once the MAC gym becomes available and a tentative home game is scheduled for February of 2013.
The Wildcats will compete this weekend in the regional tournament in St. Louis in the hopes of making it to their version of the big dance. Their first game will be on Saturday against the seventh-ranked St. Louis College of Pharmacy. The regional tournament is single elimination. The semi-final and final rounds will be played on Sunday.
“Next weekend I am excited that we have another chance to prove we are the best team in our region,” said Sam Jordan, defenseman and senior in economics. “We have been in the conversation all year, but I think with the momentum we have gained in recent weeks we have our best chance yet to prove it.”
Remsbecker said this season has been the most successful season he has been a part of since the team made it to the final four in 2000. He also said this is largely due to the amount of camaraderie this season’s squad has with each other and fan support. The Wildcats typically have more fans at away games than the local teams do.
“These guys are special in the way they pull together,” Remsbecker said. “They hang out a lot together, they care about each other and you can see it on the floor. They know their capabilities … egos don’t get in the way, they just do it.”
Remsbecker said each season differs depending on who goes joins the club, which is open to any K-State student. In 2007 they finished the season with a record of 1-16-1. Last year, the Wildcats finished third in league play but were stiffed on an invitation to the national tournament, which has really fueled them this season.
“It fueled us with the goal to be the top team in our region,” said Joel Carroll, senior in electrical engineering and team captain. “This year coach has been restricting playing time, so we’re getting our stronger guys out there more often.”
Remsbecker said Carroll and fellow team captain Parker Conant, defenseman and junior in public relations and marketing, are among his strongest players, leading drills during practice. Conant leads the league in number of points and is second in assists and game winning goals.
While winning is very important to the team this year Carroll said they still keep in mind that it is important to have fun.
“It’s the people that matter the most and we’ve got great people,” Carroll said.