This past Friday morning when a group of students got up in Lancaster, they probably went to the window hoping to see clear skies, and temperatures warm enough so that school would not be delayed or cancelled for the day.
When they got up, members of the Lancaster Police Department were also hoping the skies would remain clear, and the temperatures high enough that school was going to take place.
Why would police, but especially students, be looking for school to take place that day?
It was hockey day, of course.
For the past eight years, Friday mornings the gymnasium at Lancaster High School would be opened up at 7 a.m. for Hockey Club, a time when students could play floor hockey.
“We had a couple of kids, and they wanted to be involved in something and they just enjoyed playing floor hockey in phy-ed,” said School Counselor Tom Hughey. So, from that point on, every Friday morning during the school year Hughey opens up the gym around 7 a.m.
“I think hockey club is one of the coolest things we got going here because it involves anyone who wants to play, no pressure, we try to show sportsmanship and teamwork, and it gives me a legitimate excuse to not act my age once a week,” Hughey quipped.
For the first five years, it was just the students playing against, but then three years ago the teachers got involved, playing the students once a month.
Then two years ago, the Lancaster Police Department started playing the students once a month as well. “They were a little hesitant at first,” Hughey said of the police. “They played one time and been hooked ever since.”
The monthly game has become quite the rivalry on both sides. “Within a week, the kids are already talking to me ‘we got the police next week, we got the police next week.’ I call down to the police department and they are all fired up. They were praying for no school delay today, because then I would have cancelled the game, they wanted their trophy back.”
Beyond that rivalry, Hughey said the game is a good thing for both the students, and the police. “I think it brings a lot of camaraderie. The police enjoy interacting with the kids in a positive way, and seeing them in a different level……The kids get to see they are just people too, not just out there enforcing laws, but they interact and be helpers in the community.”
That sentiment is echoed by both sides.
“It’s a way to have a positive interaction with the students,” said Officer Justin McLimans. “They don’t see us as so much as an intimidating force out there. It seems to be we have a good connection out there, everyone gets along real well. Its just a fun time to have with the students.
“Its just real nice to have that connection with the students where they can see us more as someone they can talk to and associate with, rather than someone who is out there enforcing laws, giving tickets to people,” he added.
“Its very tiring, the mornings we play them,” noted Tyler Krohn about the game against the police. “They’re not like softies on us.”
For the students involved, hockey club is more than the interaction with police.
“I enjoy it, it helps me reduce my energy level, it helps me interact better with other students, and it helps to get in shape too,” said Dominic Walter. Walter said that the games against the teachers show him a different side, allowing him to know that if he has troubles in school he can go and talk with them about it.
“I hope this continues on for future generations,” added Mitchell Vorwald about the club, noting that what it also brings is a healthy way to deal with anger or stress.
And something they look forward to, especially on Police week. “We have to wake up early and be prepared.
With a ringer brought in, the police won Friday to take back the coveted rivalry trophy, which the students had held for quite some time. But regardless who won, both sides looked like they had a lot of fun running up and down the gym floor, playing that hour before school.
“I have taken some pretty hard shots, but its pretty fun,” stated student goalie Connor McLaughlin.