Scholl, alumni warm up to pond hockey

Scholl, alumni warm up to pond hockey

Vice Principal of Academics Gary Scholl, far left, plays ice hockey with alumni on the frozen pond. Scholl and alumni play ice hockey to get together with old friends and reminisce.

Brianna Glase, Online Chief

After an entire season of winter without a decent snow, Vice Principal of Academics Gary Scholl wasn’t feeling very optimistic about continuing the tradition of playing pond hockey on the lake behind St. Joseph Hall this year. To his surprise, Jan. 26, he found the pond frozen solid, so he rounded up JC alumni to play two whole days of pond hockey for old time’s sake.

“I had always played pond hockey as a kid when I was living here in Bel Air,” Scholl said. When he first came to JC he brought the tradition with him. “When [Mr. Smith] came the year after I did, he was also a pond hockey kid, and we said: ‘We gotta do this here,’” Scholl said.

Brothers Scott Kelly, class of ‘81, and Rich Kelly, class of ‘83, attended JC at the beginning of the pond hockey tradition and continue to play today. “Mr. Boo Smith and Gary Scholl started [playing] a few years before I did, they would just hit the puck around,” Scott said.

The two boys were the first to skate with the teachers when Scholl invited them out one day. Scholl and Smith would round up some students after school and take them out to play ice hockey on the frozen pond. Because Scholl was the wrestling coach at the time, he would sometimes just take the wrestling team out there instead of practice.

However, according to Scholl, “When we really got cranked up was when I stopped coaching.”

The entire winter, Scholl would grab students at the end of the school day, tell them to get some skates and a hockey stick, and come out and join them on the pond. “Anybody that came out there loved it. We’d play from three o’clock in the afternoon until dark,” Scholl said.

In Scott’s case, even though he was in Scholl’s Western Civilization class at the time and on the wrestling team, it was playing ice hockey on the pond that really allowed him to grow closer to Scholl. “Being a teacher just kind of goes out the window, it takes it to a personal level of respect and friendship. Besides, you get to check a teacher which is pretty cool,” Scott said.

According to Scholl, the “heyday” of JC pond hockey was back in the 90s. During this time, Scholl would even hold banquets for the kids who played field hockey, complete with a trophy, Soviet Union hockey jerseys, and pucks provided by Russian teacher Ed Miller.

When the pond hockey games were the most popular, “we had so many kids we’d have to have two different games going on at the same time,” said Scholl. They would have about 24 kids at the most on any given day.

However, the daily tradition of pond hockey eventually fell by the wayside. “As I got into more administrative duties it kind of lost the student angle,” Scholl said.

In addition, as Scholl aged, pond hockey games became harder and harder. “I used to be able to keep up with them, I can’t so much anymore, but I’m out there and that’s what’s important,” he said.

Even today, though, the tradition of pond hockey continues, just with slightly less intensity: “The guys that come back now are mostly alumni from the 70s and 80s,” Scholl said.

Instead of grabbing kids at the end of the school day, Scholl assembles a weekend team on an email list whenever a good snow comes by. Normally nowadays, they will have two teams of six face off against one another all day Saturday and Sunday.

Scott is one of these past students that still continue to come back for a game of pond hockey. Even now, years later, he still retains the same enthusiasm for the game. “It is doing something no one else is doing and going outside. You’re thinking about it all winter long, and as soon as you get [the pond frozen], you know you will be on the ice. You only see everybody once or twice a year and you look forward to this,” he said.

Even with less participation, Scholl echoes Scott’s enthusiasm. “There’s just something about being outside in the middle of winter when everyone else is inside and just being out on the ice playing.”

Brianna Glase is Online Chief for The Patriot and