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Excellence in All We Do: Air Force Falcons Club Hockey

Sitting East of the Rampart Range and just north of Colorado Springs lies the United States Air Force Academy. Not only is it home of  the D1 NCAA Air Force Falcons Varsity Hockey team, but the D3 ACHA Club team that has been blazing a path of dominance over their opponents this season as well. The team, Captained by Cadet First Class (Senior) AJ Beckwith, have worked themselves to sit at the top of the rankings this season and plan to show no signs of stopping.

Speaking with the team's Head Coach, Tim Hartje, he explained to me that "The purpose of the club program is to provide the cadets an opportunity to further develop leadership qualities to prepare them to be strong officers/leaders of character in the United States Air Force." Tim also explained to me the day in the life of a USAFA cadet, which starts from five in the morning until eleven at night, somehow cramming in 6-7 classes, military training, homework, and hockey practice into that mix.  This is best symbolized in the teams patch that all hockey club players get to wear both on the hockey uniforms and on their athletic jackets.

Logo via USAFA club hockey
The Description below the logo reads: The background of the patch is round and black to represent a hockey puck. The patch consists of a large animated practice cone with a lightning bolt on its "chest." The lightning bolt symbolizes both the Air Force and the fear struck down into our opponents when they see the precision and power in which the Falcons play. The cone is personified to be a hockey player holding a stick and wearing a helmet. The cone is orange, because that is the color of cones used in practice, signifying the hard work put forth on and off the ice. A cone also represents the endless hours spent skating to build strength, finesse and noble character. It also stands for the integrity each Air Force hockey player has to finish a drill completely by skating all the way to the cone and all the way back. Two hockey sticks are crossed to showcase hockey as a team sport and success requires playing for one another. The patch includes “USAFA” at the top as a reminder to all players that they are always representatives of the Academy on and off the ice. Bottom-line, "Club Hockey" presents the cadet participants with a unique opportunity to develop into leaders of character while representing the academy in a highly competitive arena. 

Another aspect that aids the team is that they have a ton of support not only from the Varsity team, but as well as the cadet wing (military mission) and athletic department as a whole to help each cadet, at whatever level of competition, to excel at whatever they do. The team not only gets onto the ice during the week at Cadet Ice Arena for practice, but they also play home games at the arena on a non-conflicting basis with the varsity schedule. When asked about the level of talent on the team, Tim stated "We have a balanced and talented lineup of seniors down through freshmen class. We have positional depth and are enjoying another strong year in nets by Cadet Second Class (junior) goalie, John Gnan. We should remain strong for foreseeable future but this team is primed to make a statement on national stage."

When it came time to get new uniforms, the team's leaders did some digging to find a manufacturer that would make them jerseys that were high quality but met within there budget. After all that search, the team chose to go with Rebirth for there new set of jerseys and socks for this year.

Mockups Via Rebirth Sports
When going with a new design for the uniforms, the team wanted to embody both the pride that they have representing not only the United States Air Force Academy but the country that it protects, or as Tim put it in better terms, "The flag and AF on the jerseys is a prime reminder to all that we proudly represent the academy and nation first and foremost." Both the home (white) and away (blue) jerseys are adorned with the Air Force Lightning Bolt and American Flag on the shoulders as well as the hockey club's patch on the back of each jersey As well as the Air Force "AF" logo on the chest of each jersey. For the design of the home jersey, the team decided to do a chest stripe that was placed on just the front of the jersey with both a hem and sleeve stripes to match as well as a blue yoke. The away jersey's design is a blue jerseys with a white hem and yoke with a white stripe with silver accents spaced out evenly.




All Photos Courtesy of Bill Castle Photography
What I find really interesting about the home jerseys is how the chest stripe is used. It doesn't work in the way of what Florida does but more of a single panel contained stripe across the chest. Along with the socks and pants with the lightning bolt down the side, This jersey set is a perfect representation of what the team was trying to get across: The Country and Academy First and Foremost!

As the son of an Air Force Veteran, it was my honor to write about the USAFA Club Hockey team and the jerseys are something that every Air Force Veteran should be proud to see being worn on the ice. All that said, I suggest that the next time you're near the academy go watch the team play a game and cheer them on. I wish nothing but the best of luck to Tim and his Cadets as they storm their way towards Nationals this year. 

Excellence in All We Do: Air Force Falcons Club Hockey Reviewed by Steven Marculaitis on January 26, 2018 Rating: 5

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think you may have made some errors in one of your paragraphs.

"When it came time to get new uniforms, the team's leaders did some digging to find a manufacturer that would make them jerseys that were high quality but met within there budget. After all that search, the team chose to go with Rebirth for there new set of jerseys and socks for this year."

The word "there" should be replaced with "their" both times it is used.

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