Inline to Outpace the Competition


Courtesy of Ryan Le

The Roller Hockey Club competed for the first time on Oct. 24 at The Rinks Irvine Inline against Edison High School.

Gliding. From an outsider’s perspective, that is what roller hockey players do as they dash across the rink, hockey sticks scrabbling against each other.

This year, freshman Wyly Chen and juniors Brennan Gee, Ryan Le, Zane Schatz and Thomas Vidal founded the Roller Hockey Club. Under the instruction of parent coaches Frank Chen, Patrick Le and Mark Vidal, the team of 11 practices at The Rinks Irvine Inline each weekend to prepare for its inaugural winter season.

“I’ve been playing roller hockey since third grade, and I just started lacrosse too, but I really wanted to get my friends back playing roller hockey,” Le said. “So I thought it would be a good opportunity to get the band back together and play against other teams.”

Roller Hockey Club members have been competing in matches approximately twice a month since Oct. 24, and the team currently holds a 1-1-1 record.

Unlike ice hockey, roller inline hockey is played using inline skates on a hard surface. Games are divided into two 15-minute periods, and the goal is to use hockey sticks to direct a plastic puck into the opposing goal. 

“Ice hockey is more of a fast-paced game, whereas roller is more of a thinking game,” freshman Alex Noda said. “Instead of passing the puck right away, you have more time to think, and you can make better plays off it.”

While many of the team’s members have known and played with each other for years, the club has also accepted several new players, creating a team with diverse skill levels.

“It’s a good balance,” Wyly Chen said. “Everyone has something to work on. Most of the people on the team know each other already. They’ve been playing on the team for a few years now, so it’s pretty good team chemistry. If someone needs help, then everyone helps them.”

The roller hockey community is relatively small, which lends itself to a fierce tournament environment, according to Wyly Chen: after facing the same competitors for years, players have familiarized themselves with their opposing teams’ strategies. 

However, the tense rivalries never deter the team from having their share of fun — both on and off the rink.

Embodying the phrase “work hard, play hard,” the club volunteers at Second Harvest Food Bank on the weekend or grabs slices of pepperoni pizza at Big Al’s Pizza when playing matches at Corona Inline. 

“It’s just fun because I know I have someone to back me up,” Wyly Chen said. “I know Ryan and them, they’ll always be there for me. Especially for school: if I need help with schoolwork, they’ll be there for me. If I need help improving skills or just want to hang out, they’ll be there for me.”