The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has one of the three oldest Underwater Hockey teams in the United States amongst city-wide teams, high school teams, and university teams. The team was founded in 1971 however Underwater Hockey was being played on campus potentially as early as the late 1950s.
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Over the years the team has held practices on the University of Illinois campus at the former Huff Hall pool, Freer Hall, and now the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) formerly known as the IntraMural Physical Education Building (IMPE).

Typically, a tournament is hosted once a semester. These tournaments are well attended by teams in the Midwestern United States as well as alumni who make the trip back to play at their alma mater. The members of the team also travel to multiple tournaments each semester across the United States and Canada.

Today the team is co-ed and managed by a team president and treasurer. These officers are in charge of running practices, organizing the bi-annual tournaments, organizing team travel to compete in tournaments and team finances.


Underwater Hockey began in England in 1954 and soon after the sport was brought to the United States.[1] It is common knowledge among U.S. UWH players that the three oldest teams in the nation are the University of Illinois Underwater Hockey team, the Chicago Underwater Hockey team and the San Diego Underwater Hockey team. However, it is unknown which team came first or the exact year the teams began playing the sport.

The UIUC team however has been traced back to 1969 for sure by finding alumni that played in that year. It is also believed amongst UIUC UWH alumni that the team was in existence prior to 1969 and that there is a gap where no one knows of any players. This however is not certain as none of the players from this time were founding members of the team when it was formally established in 1971.

Practice Locations Past & Present

The original home of the Underwater Hockey team was Huff Hall up until this was closed in 2002 forcing the team to move to IntraMural Physical Education Building (IMPE).

From January 2006 through the spring semester of 2008 ARC (formerly known as IMPE) was closed for renovations [2] and the Underwater Hockey team practiced at alternative locations. The team practiced at Freer Hall for part of this time as well as the Urbana Park District pool.[3]

From Fall 2008 to present (Fall 2010) the University of Illinois Underwater Hockey team has held practice at the Activities and Recreation Center (ARC) on the university campus. Practices are from 8-10pm on Thursdays, 7-9pm on Fridays, and 2-4pm on Sundays.[4] Practices are held during the Fall and Spring academic semesters. They are also occasionally canceled when the majority of the team is away at a tournament.

At ARC, the north eight lanes of the indoor pool are used for practice. This space is 25 yards long and 8 lanes wide. There is a trench in the middle third of the pool which is eight feet deep while either side of this trench is four feet deep. The drop off from the shallow sections down to the deeper section is very steep.[5]


The internationally accepted rules published by CMAS, the world confederation for underwater activities, are used for the play of Underwater Hockey. These rules explain required equipment, fouls, penalties, playing area, and other needed concepts to hold a competition for Underwater Hockey.

The UIUC UWH team uses these rules in addition to a few "house rules" unique to the pool at ARC. For example, due to the trench in the center third of the pool, players are not allowed to shoot the puck off the top of the trench. The puck must touch the wall of the trench on the way down or it is an illegal shot. There are three main reasons for this rule which all relate to safety. First and foremost, players are not allowed to shoot the puck off the top of the trench wall because there typically are a number of defenders hovering in this area that the puck could hit and injure. Secondly, if the puck drops this large of a depth this most likely will crack the puck, effectively ruining it. Additionally, the puck dropping from this height potentially could also crack the tiles on the bottom of the pool. However, a typical shot on a flat bottom pool should not reach a large enough height to cause damage to the pool bottom or puck.


There are numerous tournaments all over the United States and Canada every year.[6] During the Fall semester the main tournaments that the University of Illinois is represented at are the Annual Halloween Tournament in London, Ontario, the Pacific Coast Championships, and the annual Fall Tournament at U of I.

The Spring semester is much busier as far as tournaments go. The year starts off with the Battle at Altitude hosted by the Denver Underwater Hockey Team. The past several years UIUC UWH has sent a team to this three day tournament. February is the month for the Tournament of Love in East Lansing, Michigan. This tournament is popular among the team as it is hosted by a fellow collegiate team, Michigan State University. Another collegiate team which hosts a tournament every March is the University of Guelph Underwater Hockey Team in Guelph, Ontario. The team usually makes the trip for this tournament and the Gold pool is very popular there for its fast, large, smooth tile bottom. In April, the tournaments for the Spring semester wrap up with the April Fool's Day tournament hosted by George Mason University Underwater Hockey in Fairfax, Virginia and the Annual Spring Tournament at U of I.

The summer is a slow time for Underwater Hockey tournaments with the exception of the national competition. This tournament typically is three days and is held the last weekend in June. Every year a different team hosts this tournament and typically the UIUC club sends a team to this high level tournament.

The tournaments listed above are a selection of tournaments that the club typically sends a team to. However, the same people don't necessarily travel to every tournament and there are many more tournaments each year than the ones listed above. The general mentality for formulating teams for tournaments is that if a player is interested in going to a tournament and regularly attends practice then they can go. People are never asked not to participate on a tournament team due to their ability level.

In the past the team has had players study abroad and play with teams in both England and Spain among other places. Additionally, an alumnus, Mike Zvilius, spent about a year between July 1998 and June 1999 traveling the world and playing Underwater Hockey. Many of his blog entries about the trip can be read on the UIUC Underwater Hockey website.[4]

The farthest the club has gone as a team is Hawaii for the Pacific Coast Championships. The Pacific Coast Championships are a high level tournament held once a year. The hosting team fluctuates amongst a group of teams on the West Coast and the last time it was held in Hawaii was in 2002.[4]

Practice Strategy

The team holds three practices a week for two hours each. The practices as of Fall 2010 are Thursdays from 8-10pm, Fridays from 7-9pm, and Sundays from 2-4pm. Numerous people who have never played the sport before try it out each year with the UIUC club. The team has extra equipment so that new people can try the sport. (Typically, players buy their own equipment that is of higher quality if they choose to stick with the sport.) [4]

At the start of the Fall semester each year the first several practices are rookie practices where the veteran members work on teaching new players the game. However, after these first few rookie practices, generally practice time is used for scrimmaging.

Team Government

Team Philosophy

The team philosophy is succinctly explained by a phrase found on the team website: "All are welcome. Just bring a swimsuit; we have the rest." [4] This mentality is further developed with the team mission statement: "To introduce people to and increase the participation in the sport of Underwater Hockey (UWH) through providing team practice times and opportunities to attend tournaments and clinics. All are welcome to try our sport. No previous experience required or expected." [7]

Officer Positions

The team is run by a president and a treasurer. These are the required positions by the Office of Registered Student Organizations at the University of Illinois.[8] Officers are agreed upon by the team each year based on who volunteers or expresses interest in the positions. Officers can hold their position for more than one academic year.


  1. Blake, A. "Octopush: An original name invented on the same night as Octopush an original sport was invented". Retrieved 2008-07-22.
  2. Kamath, Carrie, Michael Golebiowski, and Christian Kaiser. The Activities Recreational Center (ARC) Usage Frequency by Each Class and Factors Behind Why. Web. 29 Nov. 2010.
  3. Gall, Jen. Play Underwater Hockey. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Champaign.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 Remick, Kevin. UIUC Underwater Hockey. 2 December 2010 .
  5. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Campus Recreation Specs and Facts. 2 December 2010
  6. USA Underwater Hockey. UWH Tournaments-North America. 2 December 2010
  7. University of Illinois Office of Registered Student Organizations. Underwater Hockey (UWH). September 2010. 2 December 2010
  8. University of Illinois Office of Registered Student Organizations. Registered Organization Registration. 2 December 2010

External links

This article uses material from the Wikipedia article University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Underwater Hockey, that was deleted or is being discussed for deletion, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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