Airmen form hockey team

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Kayla Newman
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs
The sound of blades scraping ice, wooden sticks slapping together and the undeniable chill that forces its way through the body are clear indicators of a hockey game, but for the players, that game is much more than just sounds and shivers, especially for the members of the newly formed Langley Raptors.

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Eric Luttrell, 10th Intelligence Squadron cyber transport craftsman, recently became stationed at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, and upon his arrival successfully formed a 25 member hockey team comprised of Airmen in every rank tier.

"They have an ice rink here and they didn't have one at my last base, so I went online and discovered there are tons of Air Force hockey teams around the country, just not many people know about it," said Luttrell about his experience with starting the team. "I got my son into hockey through this really cool site that gives you equipment for your child if you are a military member. So, then I asked for equipment and they gave me some.The next thing I needed was a team."

Luttrell placed an ad in the local base paper and online seeking any Service members interested in joining the team.

"I have been playing since I was six, so about 22 years," said Senior Airman Zachary Klempel, 1st Maintenance Squadron aerospace ground equipment journeyman. "My wife came home one day and said someone posted on Facebook that they were trying to start a base hockey team, so I looked up sergeant Luttrell and went from there."

With only three practices completed, the fresh hockey team traveled to Maryland to compete in the Armed Service Hockey Association National Capital Region tournament.

"I was a little nervous at first because we had only had a couple of practices together and a couple of the guys we hadn't even seen skate before," said Klempel. "It was good to see everyone come together over two days and see how well everyone played."

During the tournament, the team played a variety of opponents, to include police officers and fire fighters. Ultimately, the Langley Raptors went undefeated and became the champions of the tournament.

With the accomplishment of winning their first tournament as a team, Luttrell and the other captains hope the team continues to develop.

"I would love to see the team continue to grow even after all of us have gone, and to know that there is still a team here still doing what we helped create," said Klempel.

As they continue to practice and play games against local community teams, the next military exhibition will be November 7th and 8th against the Fort Bragg, North Carolina, hockey team, which Luttrell hopes is something that will continue as time goes on.