Aug 242014
 

And now, our occasional reminder about 2014-15 season tickets and the Blue Line Club. UAH Director of Athletics Dr. E.J. Brophy sent out this email to Charger fans last week, and I think it sums it up nicely:

Dear Charger Fan,

As our UAH Hockey team enters year two in the prestigious Western Collegiate Hockey Association, we hope you will strongly consider purchasing season tickets for the upcoming campaign.  Your support is vital to our program.  Click here for your season ticket/Blue Line Club brochure.

As a season ticket holder, your attendance and monetary commitment tremendously assists the program as we strive to climb the ladder of the WCHA.

As a member of the Blue Line Club, your monetary contributions go directly toward enhancing the collegiate athletic experiences of UAH Hockey student-athletes.  Your gift makes a big difference in the collegiate careers of these young people, and helps insure steady growth within the UAH Hockey program.  Season tickets are also included with your membership in the Blue Line Club.

We invite you to purchase your season tickets today or join the Blue Line Club at the level that is right for you. We need you now more than ever, as we continue this new era of UAH Hockey.

GO CHARGERS!

Sincerely,

E. J. Brophy, Ph.D.
Director of Athletics
The University of Alabama in Huntsville

We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again:  Even if you can’t donate the minimum to enjoy the perks of the Blue Line Club, the program will gladly accept any amount of contribution. If you can’t get full season tickets, get those FlexTix packages and cheer your Chargers whenever you can. Every little bit helps as we strive to build a championship contender in the Hockey Capital of the South.

The home opening series is against Bowling Green on Friday and Saturday, Oct. 17-18, which also happens to be homecoming! Individual game ticket and promotion information will be available in the coming weeks. Follow @weloveuahhockey and @uahhockey on Twitter, and like UAH Hockey on Facebook to keep up to date.

Thanks, and go Chargers!

Aug 132014
 

Summer news and notes as we are fewer than 60 days from the start of the 2014-15 season. Season tickets are on sale now!

Craig Bushey played for the Chargers from 2001-05.

Craig Bushey played for the Chargers from 2001-05.

The Point Mallard Ducks’ first ever home game will feature former Charger teammates behind the benches.

Karlis Zirnis, who was an assistant coach on the Latvian team at this year’s Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, was named the head coach of the Nashville Jr. Predators on August 5. The Predators will face the Ducks at the Point Mallard Ice Complex on September 27.

Zirnis had 119 points for UAH from 1999-2003, 14th most in school history and 2nd in UAH’s modern Division I era. His 46 goals is third in UAH’s modern Division I era, and his 73 assists is second.

The Point Mallard Ducks, Alabama’s first Junior ‘A’ team going into its inaugural NA3HL season, will be led by Craig Bushey, who was hired in May. The Ducks were formally introduced to the city of Decatur with a ribbon-cutting ceremony on August 8.

Bushey, who played for the Chargers from 2001-05, is 17th on UAH’s all-time scoring list (and 3rd in the modern Division I era) with 112 points. He was fifth in the D-I era with 46 goals and third with 67 assists.

Seabass down under: Former Charger Sebastian Geoffrion played for the United States team that headed down to Australia for a five-game exhibition series against a team representing Canada. The International Ice Hockey Australia event, which had sellout crowds in Perth, Brisbane, Sydney, and Melbourne, benefitted the Stop Concussions Foundation.

Penalty Box Radio caught up with Geoffrion to talk about his experience in Australia, where the U.S. team defeated Canada in three of the five games to claim the Douglas Webber Cup. The Brentwood, Tennessee, native spent most of the 2013-14 season with the Arizona Sun Dogs of the CHL.

NCAA rule changes: Last month, the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel approved new rule changes for the 2014-15 season. The rule changes include:

  • Video replay can be used to determine if a goal was scored before a penalty occurred. Replay can be used to review a goal if it appears offsides or a too many men on the ice penalty should have been called (and the puck doesn’t leave the offensive zone). Replay can now be used from all video sources (not just the TV/Internet broadcast).
  • Major penalty for intereference (to assist officials in penalizing for blindside hits or other significant contact not to the head or neck.
  • For faceoffs, playing the puck with the hand now results in a minor penalty. End zone faceoffs now require the defending team to put their stick down first instead of the attacking team. The visiting team will continue to put their stick down first in neutral zone faceoffs. Faceoffs will now stay in the offensive zone if the attacking team attempts to score and the puck goes out of play.

Charger Blue does the Ice Bucket Challenge: Unfazed.

Aug 012014
 

We are the Chargers who wear blue and white. It’s the first line in the UAH fight song.

But why? The origins of UAH’s athletic identity are not widely known.

To learn how The University of Alabama in Huntsville got its colors and team nickname, you have to go back to 1969, the year UAH became an independent institution instead of an extension of The University of Alabama. The university’s first intercollegiate athletic team, eight-man crew, had already been established by Dennis Kamrad in 1968, and now students were looking to form a basketball team.

Dr. Bernie Loposer, who became UAH’s Director of Student Affairs in 1969, was asked to be the basketball team’s coach. Loposer scheduled competition against junior colleges and other teams such as Athens College, Shorter College, St. Bernard College, Oakland City University, and the 101st Dvision in Fort Campbell, Ky. There was no budget outside of a little support from Kamrad, who was also the director of the student union, to obtain uniforms. All other expenses (such as travel and meals) were paid for by the players themselves.

With Kamrad growing the crew team into a competitive program, Loposer putting together the basketball team, and Dr. Ostap Stromecky starting the soccer club, it was apparent that there was enough student support for an official athletic program at UAH. That meant choosing a nickname and team colors.

The (Uhlan) Chargers

UAH Uhlan Chargers

The earliest known logo for what was the UAH Uhlan Chargers. (courtesy UAH Athletics)

Students conducted contests to decide the school colors and the nickname. There were many suggestions considered, but one immediately stood out: The Uhlans.

Uhlans were cavalry originating from Poland in the 18th Century. The riders were armed with lances or sabres.

The name, submitted by a popular, liberal history professor, was different and non-traditional, and it resonated with the students at a time when different and non-traditional was embraced (it was the late 1960s, after all). Plus, it had the letters U, A, and H in it.

But was it too different?

“Almost immediately, I was struck by the possibility that the Uhlan name was so different that it was bound to invite invidious comments and potential ridicule and heckling from those campuses who were more traditional and conservative than our own student body,” Loposer said. “Therefore, I persuaded the proponents of the name to amend the mascot to be called the Uhlan Chargers, using the reasoning that the Uhlans were cavalry warriors on horseback.

“I also pointed out that we were in the Tennessee Valley (TVA) where electricity was produced, which meant that a team called the Chargers would honor our region.”

The addition of “Chargers” was pivotal, as “Uhlans” could have been problematic. While the Uhlans originated in Poland, the term was used for calvary units throughout eastern Europe, including Germany during both World Wars. This was why Valparaiso University changed its nickname from the Uhlans to the Crusaders in 1942, during World War II.

However, Loposer says such connotations were neither considered nor mentioned. “My long-range thinking was that the liberal bent of students would eventually run its course and that an ambiance of normalcy would eventually return, and with it a more traditional name, i.e., the Chargers, would end up being the name for the teams when they took the floor. Fortunately, it turned out as I hoped it would be.”

Intentional or not, it didn’t take long for “Uhlan” to fade into history.

Blue and white

The reasoning behind the colors was simple: Get away from The University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

The students again wanted UAH to stand apart from establishment. They didn’t want to do what UCLA had done, which was adopt the colors (blue and gold) and similar nickname (Bruins vs. Bears) of its parent (University of California, Berkeley).

“As for the colors, the only reaction I recall was that the students wanted to be a far as possible from the crimson and white used by UAT,” Loposer said. “That’s when the suggestion of blue and white became the odds-on favorite and was eventually selected.”

A separate contest was held by administrators of the student union to select cheerleaders, who made their own uniforms and footed the bills for travel when they accompanied the team at away games.

By 1973, UAH had established an official athletic department with athletic teams at the varsity level, led by the sports of crew, men’s basketball, and men’s soccer. Today, there are 14 teams who call themselves the UAH Chargers who wear blue and white.

* * *

Author’s note: A special thanks to Dr. Bernie Loposer for providing insight into the origins of UAH athletics. UAH Charger records and history have been fascinating to me from the time I worked in the UAH sports information office as a student.  All I knew, however, was that we were once the “Uhlan Chargers,” and we didn’t have any documentation prior to 1973. Loposer did say that “some of the facts I have cited may get challenged.” If you want to challenge (or even better, add more detail to the story), please send me a message at m@uahhockey.com.