Inline Hockey

BY: FERNANDO RODRIGUEZ

While the prospect of Mexico forming an ice hockey team for the Olympics may have seemed implausible at one time, that reality may not be so far away. The popularity of hockey has been steadily growing south of the border. Its popularity in Los Cabos has been steadily on the rise as well with more and more young and older Mexicans falling in love with what is considered the fastest game on the planet. 
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Thanks to the superlative efforts of Elias Enrique Espino Diaz, hockey in Cabo San Lucas is now on the Republic of Mexico map. The passionate professor of the hockey puck is known as Kike, pronounced Kee-keh. which is short for Enrique. He first began this incredible journey in early November. During the November 20, 2019 National Holiday which celebrates the Mexican Revolution of 1910, coach Kike held an exhibition during the parade with 12 of his hockey stick wielding student-athletes. "It was very important what these players did. I told them during practice that what they were doing was of great significance as the first hockey team in the history of Los Cabos and Baja California Sur," said Kike. 

Ten days later on November 30, coach Enrique, held another exhibition practice at the Cetmar # 31 high school campus. Since there are no ice hockey rinks in Southern Baja or Mexico for that matter, the style of hockey being played is called Inline Hockey in which players wear roller blades. The four mini-wheels are under the players’ feet and not at each corner like the roller skates from the 1950's, 60's and 70's. And of course, the games are contested on asphalt or the smoother tartan-rubber like surface. 

Coach Enrique has named his Los Cabos club team The Sharks, after the National Hockey League team from San Jose, California and they have the same NHL Sharks team colors of teal with black and white. One of his player’s parents, Ana Laura Jacobo Garcia, commended his efforts. "I want to especially congratulate you, Kik E Lias, for the dedication, passion and love you put into everything you do, but especially this sport. Your great effort and sacrifice are paying off so much that there are already two hockey teams in the municipality and that is worth recognizing."

In mid-December he traveled to Puebla with his BCS Sharks where the young men and women competed in an Inline Hockey tournament featuring teams from the states of Chihuahua, Sonora, Guanajuato, San Luis Potosí, Nuevo León, Aguascalientes and Mexico City. In a Facebook live shared video, the Sharks BCS beat Talaveros Puebla, 7-6. Via this medium, parents who could not personally attend were able to cheer on their children from a laptop or their cell phones. And there was much to cheer about as The Sharks BCS earned a 2nd place silver medal finish. "Congratulations to BCS Inline Hockey, and congratulations to the players, coaches and parents. These results were the fruits from the seeds they have sown," said Victor Manuel Dominguez, a friend and fellow hockey enthusiast.  

"We thank God for allowing us to live the experience of participating as Sharks BCS in a second FEMEPAR 2020 Tournament," said coach Enrique. "I also would like to thank the efforts of the players, parents and authorities who supported us to make this possible. We learned a lot and we will continue working to achieve better results." One of the parents who was able to accompany the team, Marycris Robles added, ''Congratulations to the Sharks and younger Sharky's. It was an incredible experience. Thank you all for the support and especially for such a healthy environment with a good vibe. It was a pleasure to have been there."

From December 16 until January 15, there was an ice rink in Los Cabos open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and from 5 to 9 p.m. where the young Sharks were able to experience the speed and feel of true ice skating magic. ''Those were excellent facilities, but above all, the children were very happy to attend and skate,'' said coach Enrique. "I really liked ice skating. Let's hope there is another rink here in Cabo someday," added Dariela Valenzuela. 

Enrique himself attended a hockey seminar and received certified training in Mexico City as a hockey referee which further cemented his supreme knowledge of the game. In late February, Enrique stated that, "Hockey at BCS continues to grow, and it is our hope that soon more children, youth and adults will come to practice this beautiful sport." 

On February 10, The Sharks BCS team welcomed Kim Haman, a USA silver medalist at the International Hockey Federation's 1992 women's world championship who shared her hockey experiences with our young local players. "Thank you all so much for sharing your love and passion for hockey with me," said the celebrity Kim Haman. ''I truly feel blessed. I was so happy with the kids that I didn't even look at what stick I used. I just grabbed it and started coaching." Lupita Pablos, a Sharks BCS hockey mom, said, "What a beautiful experience for the kids.” 

By March 11, the Sharks BCS teams were competing in their second Inline Hockey tournament of the year. This time they travelled to nearby Guadalajara, Jalisco. By then, coach Enrique had two teams of younger children, two teams of older children and was also trying to form the junior and senior boys aged 14 to 19 years. 

Coach Enrique has transformed the sports landscape of Southern Baja California and Los Cabos in particular and successfully brought hockey to the forefront. The aspiring hockey stars practice and train on one of the five basketball courts at the Don Koll sports complex in Colonia Cangrejos. The team is hoping INDEM, The Sports Institute of the Municipality of Los Cabos, led by Perla Castro Perpuli, will build an official sized rink designed and used solely for Inline Hockey. 

In the meantime, coach Enrique continues making friendships and building relationships with every excited and hungry for hockey city and state in Mexico including Aguascalientes, Chiapas, Chihuahua, Durango, Guanajuato, Guadalajara, Sonora, San Luis Potosi, Mexico City, Mexicali, Tijuana, Nuevo Leon, and Puebla. 

"Skating is a lifestyle which you acquire from childhood. It gives you happiness and freedom of movement," said coach Enrique. During the pandemic, one of his Sharks BCS players shared a video of him practicing his 'Happy Gilmore' hockey stick swing at scoring a goal. 

And soon, as life in Cabo returns to normal, the world-wide popular game of hockey will continue to prosper in this beach paradise community. For more information, please contact coach Kike at (624) 160-9524 or visit their Hockey BCS Facebook page for updates.