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Hockey Night in Waynesboro: Y program brings some northern exposure

The pond isn’t frozen – it isn’t even a pond, actually, just a basketball floor devoid of kids shooting jump shots and layups for an hour every Wednesday night.

But YMCA fitness director Eric Wilson can close his eyes and think of his days as a youth in Alberta in western Canada playing hockey.

“It’s like any other sport. I don’t like to get beat for a goal. And I can’t say that I don’t enjoy going around someone like they’re a pylon and scoring a goal,” said Wilson, who organized the Y’s floor hockey program that draws a dozen or so Y members for the weekly scrimmages.

No ice, no skates, no helmets – no checking – but everything else is what you’d expect from the fast-paced sport. The participants range from kids who wonder in after basketball practice intrigued at the sport they’ve only seen on TV or video game to adults who had a similar introduction to the sport initially and have since come to look forward to their regular Wednesday night hockey.

“This is my first time back since before football season. I’ve really missed it,” said Gene Wassick, a Y member and assistant football coach at Riverheads High School, showing off the new gloves that he’d purchased to lessen the pressure on his hands from holding the stick and also improve his stick-handling.

Wassick stood sentry at the goal at one end, Wilson at the other. About 45 seconds in Wassick’s team snuck the tennis ball serving as the puck for the night into the net past Wilson, and it was game on.

“Hockey is a sport that almost anyone can play at any level. You can pick it up pretty quick. It’s also an inclusive sport. Some of the people who come in have never played hockey before, and they can get involved in the play right away,” said Wilson afterward, not far from a group of college-age young women who came in for the night to give the sport a try for the first time.

One of the trio was the player who pushed the first goal of the game past Wilson, who got his revenge later on on a goalie rush.

“Those of who do play, we grew up playing, and hockey is just a good way to get out and have some fun,” Wilson said.

Story by Chris Graham. More Waynesboro YMCA news at