Underwater Hockey making a splash in Milwaukee
Vince Vitrano, Stephanie Graham
Photo: Video by tmj4.com
BROWN DEER - It seems there's no limit to the creative way people play sports. Well, here's one you probably haven't seen!
They use sticks and pucks, it's aggressive, but it isn't your average hockey match!
Tyera Eulberg is the Captain of the U.S. Women's Underwater Hockey Team. She explains, "Underwater hockey is the most fun you'll ever have in a swimming pool in my opinion."
The sport is played at the bottom of the pool, with players wearing snorkeling gear and fins.
Team USA player Alex Mathis of Cincinnati says it takes awhile to get used to. "It's especially weird because it's the only sport in a 3D playing area, where you have people above you, you have people below you, so you have to sorta look all around."
The Americas Cup Underwater Championships just wrapped up at Schroeder Aquatic Center in Brown Deer.
"It's really cool because the Olympics are going on right now and it really does feel like I'm part of the Olympics," Alex beams.
Teams from Colombia, Argentina, the United States, and Canada compete to see who rules the pool. Alex admits he was skeptical when his brother first joined an underwater hockey team a few years ago. "He came home one day and said 'Oh, I signed up for the underwater hockey team', and I was like, what?!"
Coach Paul Wittekind quickly showed him the ropes. Wittekind says underwater hockey really isn't that weird when you think about it.
"It's no more unusual than any other sport. I mean we love basketball, but if you think about it you're throwing a ball around a court and trying to put it in a little metal hoop," Wittekind says.
The sport takes a lot of teamwork since players can't hear each other underwater.
"I love it because of the utter elegance of a sport that involves breath-holding. No one person can do it all in this sport," Tyera explains.
Organizers hope the sport is recognized by the Olympic committee someday.
"If we had enough countries playing it, I think it would be a fun way to popularize the sport, and show what fun we have," Wittekind says.
Right now there are teams in Madison and Green Bay. Event organizers hope to get a league started at Schroeder later this year.