Athens Bobcats High School Hockey Team in a huddle.

The Athens Bobcats Ice Hockey Club Team Starts Their Season

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ATHENS, Ohio (WOUB) — Not only is Bird Arena home to the Ohio University Bobcats, but also the Athens Bobcats. The Athens Bobcats are a club hockey team for high school students near the Athens area. The team has been around since 1963 and started as a group of high school students playing pickup hockey. The team later became a travel team, and in 2001, it became a club team. The Bobcats are coached by former player, Beau Nishimura.

“It’s awesome coaching in Athens,” Nishimura said. “I actually grew up and started playing when I was eight years old here at Bird Arena. I went through all the way through our program. Being able to come back and give back to my community and coach for Athens teams is absolutely amazing. It’s a dream come true.”
The Bobcats take players from eight different high schools throughout the Southeast Ohio area. Player Xavier Gross said playing in Ohio is a different experience.
“It’s a pretty cool experience playing club hockey,” he said. “Hockey in Ohio, it’s a little different than up in Michigan and Minnesota. You have a lot of school teams and in Ohio not so much. So, it’s kinda cool to bring in all these guys from different schools and kinda create this team from more of a region.”
Coach Nishimura said there are some difficulties.
“It’s always a struggle in Athens,” he said.  “We only have one rink, and we don’t have ice year-round. A lot of these other teams, all the teams we play in Columbus, they can practice over the summer and spring. We normally don’t get ice here until mid-September.
He also said his players don’t just focus on hockey.
“We also have to deal with players that play dual sports,” he said, “so normally the first couple of weeks we are short-staffed on our team.”
The Bobcats ended last season third in their league and second in the end-of-the-year tournament. Their next home match is on Nov. 19 as they take on the Dublin Celtics.Athens Bobcats High School Hockey Team in a huddle.