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Playing it cool—building connections on the ice 


 

By Liane Nakahara, PSNS & IMF Public Affairs

 

Some PSNS & IMF employees love spending the coldest months of the year on a big slab of ice. In their off-time, these teammates join other DOD personnel from Kitsap-area commands to play in an adult recreation hockey league.

A few teams in this league are comprised primarily of Navy or Marine Corps personnel. Those are the Drillers and Nimitz, who compete in the “A League,” and the Riggers who compete in the “B League.” While the Nimitz team is made up of USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Sailors, the Drillers and the Riggers were both founded by PSNS & IMF personnel.

Having fun

“We are skilled and are very competitive, but we don’t really take it too seriously. The main thing is to have fun,” said Kevin Reiber, Component Repair and Fabrication Product Line assistant manager and the Drillers’ team captain. “This sport helps bring all these commands here together."

 

Back row (left) Eric McLaughlin, Shop 31; Kevin Reiber, Code 1060; Will Tucker, Emmitt Blank, Rick Kozlik, Joe Krawczyk. Front row (left) Mike Haseley and Kyle McLeod.  Team members not pictured: Kyle Krogstad, Code 380; Mike Connor, Code 246; Jon LaVoi, Kyle Hood and Marty Bennett. (Photo courtesy of Drillers)

There are fall and winter seasons each year for ice hockey, from September to December and January to April.

The Drillers and the Riggers don’t play each other because they are in different league divisions, but sharing a sport and seeing each other occasionally at the ice center has helped build league-wide friendships.

“It is really another way of networking,” Reiber said. “Now I have all these hockey buddies all over the Shipyard and at Bangor and other commands. You know, now I have a point of contact in these different shops and when I need something, they help point me in the right direction.”

James Callahan, rigging and operations division supervisor and one of the Riggers’ team founders, agrees.

“It is fun to walk around the Shipyard at lunch and run into a guy who you met on the ice. I have met divers, painters, engineers, Sailors, and pipefitters, all while playing hockey,” said Callahan.

Networking isn’t the only benefit these teammates see from playing—the health and safety lessons carry over to work as well.

It’s a safety thing

“It’s really related to what we do at the Shipyard because of how we approach any kind of physical activity,” said Reiber. “We know we should stretch before playing and we know we should stretch before going to work. It’s a safety thing.”

Callahan agreed. “I don’t normally run or workout,” he said. “But I stretch and play hockey, so the physical fitness aspect is wonderful.”

Originally from New York, Reiber grew up playing hockey, so he was excited when an ice rink opened up in Bremerton in 2003 and a recreational hockey league started. With playing ice hockey in the fall and winter, and coaching his son’s roller hockey team in spring and summer, Reiber said hockey is a year-round sport for him.

Reiber explained that when the adult recreation league began, there was just one large group and the league officials split up those who registered as evenly as they could.

“We were one of the original teams that formed when the ice center opened,” said Reiber.

His Drillers were the fall 2015 season champions, which is when the Riggers had their first season. According to Callahan, the newer Riggers team was formed after some casual conversations within the Rigging and Operations Division about having a rigger hockey team.“It started as a joke, but I asked the rink manager if we could start our own team and she said yes,” said Callahan. “So the team was formed, and we got some jerseys and started playing.”

The Riggers’ first season was fall 2015. Callahan said, “We didn’t win a single game our first season, but we got better and the newbies picked up the game pretty fast, and now we are in first place in the league.”

Both teams admit there are some downsides to this, such as cost, being tired after a late night game and sometimes soreness. But they both agree the benefits of the sport well outweigh those negatives.

“It’s about getting exercise and building camaraderie,” said Reiber. “Hockey focuses on teamwork, which is important in all areas of your life.”


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