After years of trying and rejection, in the spring of 2010, directors and faculty at Auburn University approved the charter for an ice hockey organization after a 27 year hiatus.
In 2006, student and now Assistant Coach Elliott Chenger began his time at Auburn. A life-long hockey player and fan he quickly noticed that the university offered no such program. As Chenger set about trying to change this he crossed paths with fellow hockey enthusiast James Florkiewicz, who was also petitioning for a team.
Both Chenger and Florkiewicz contacted club organization directors and staff and were repeatedly turned away for an abundance of reasons. Reasons ranging from insurance being just too high to worry about travel and student safety. But nothing could sway their determination and want for a team. Contact was made to the club directors at least every two weeks for nearly six months, before some hope was lost and the fight for a team subsided.
However, neither of the two men ever let their dream of hockey on the Plains die. In the Spring of 2010 they again presented the want for a team to the club directors, and this time they brought with them a petition, and two possible advisors. This time something clicked with directors and the charter was granted. Auburn would once again have an ice hockey team.
As work began on building the team, the first large hurdle was finding a head coach. Per club organization laws all participants must be enrolled or employed at the university. Mike Robinson, a IT Specialist at Auburn, graciously accepted the position. Robinson is also a long time hockey player with visions of hockey at the school.
From there, objectives moved ahead to finding a team and creating a roster. When initial word of Auburn hockey and emails were sent out. There was an overwhelming list of some 70 plus players interested in playing. It was evident that Chenger and Florkiewicz were not the only ones who had missed hockey. Not only was there player interest, but the hockey fans came running too. After only the first week of the Auburn University Hockey Facebook page there were over 1,200 fans and it was growing steadily. To date Auburn has the most fans of any other SEC hockey page on Facebook.
With its inaugural season imminent, officers met on a volunteer basis and began the task of building the team. With summer break quickly approaching officer roles were solidified and the work began.
Over the summer of 2010, a schedule was pieced together with the help of many of the other SECHC teams. Due to Auburn’s late obtaining of their charter, most teams had their schedules set already. Auburn was the last SEC school to obtain a club hockey team. However, other teams generously worked with Auburn to schedule games and fit in ice times where possible. Potential players returned that fall to the excitement of a 17 game schedule.
Tryouts and practices rapidly ensued. Over the course of two weekends in early September, Auburn filled their 20 roster spots along with 5 practice squad spots. All the players had past hockey experience and are excited to be able to represent their university.
The coaching staff hopes to use somewhat of a five year plan to get Auburn hockey where they want it. They hope in that time to be able to gain enough fan and fundraising support to win a title and become a contending team in the Division III league of the SECHC and ACHA.