Over the past few days, I’ve had the distinct pleasure to get to know the BHi Great Britain Heritage team during their travels through Litomerice, Lovosice and Prague in the Czech Republic. The team is here for the World Ball Hockey Federation (WBHF) World Championships, and you’d be hard pressed to find a more dedicated team than this one. Over the course of the trip, I’ve been sitting down with the players to ask them some questions about the tournament, flying to the Czech Republic, and their love of the sport for what we’ll be calling: Player Profiles.
First up on the docket is Team Great Britain Heritage’s Head Coach, Chad Asselstine.
Stick Skillz: How did you come to be involved with the Great Britain Heritage team and the WBHF?
Chad Asselstine: The WBHF approached BHi and asked us if we’d be able to run a Britain Heritage team. All our players needed to themselves, their parents, or their grandparents be from Great Britain. So we put the registration out to our BHi membership, ran some tryouts and a combine, and from that we were able to put our team together. We told WBHF last November that we were committed to running this team.
SS: What was something of major import to you when putting the team together?
CA: Personally a big part was getting Iain Downes as our captain. Someone that I trust to lead the team, and kind of personifies everything that we look for in a team – hard worker, offensive, defensive, two way game…Someone who’s capable of leading the team. When he was on board we were full gung-ho and able to get a lot of really good guys from across the province (a lot of whom are from London) but we’ve also got people from the Niagara, Barrie and Toronto areas. Everyone has their British heritage and we’re confident that we’ve got a good team going into this tournament.
SS: Outside of bringing home the gold, what are you hoping to accomplish at the tournament?
CA: We’re hoping to represent BHi, Great Britain and everyone from our Heritage. My mother’s parents are from Ireland and Scotland, so it was a good fit, and something we could get behind to really represent. It’s been fun designing the uniform, putting the team together and putting the strategies together and now we’re looking forward to getting out on the floor and seeing how we do.
SS: Have you personally ever been to an international tournament like the WBHF World Championship before?
CA: I’ve been to national tournaments in the past, but I’ve never been internationally. I coached Team Ontario at the U17’s at the Canadian Ball Hockey CBHA Championships in Winnipeg. We won silver at that, we had a very young team and being able to come away with the silver was really cool. Essentially we’ll be using the same strategies here. Every team I coach whether it’s provincially, nationally, internationally or Stick Skillz academy, I promote the same sort of fundamentals and that’s what I’m bringing here.
SS: Being that this is the first international tournament that you’re a part of, what has you most excited about being overseas for the game?
CA: It’s really cool coming from the sports I’ve come from – ice hockey and football predominantly – to get into ball hockey on a high level and see where it’s taking us. Like Stick Skillz for example, when we first created Stick Skillz, it was with a view to bring the legitimacy of ice hockey to ball hockey. From teaching fundamentals, teaching how to bring a real hockey strategy into a ball hockey game, and now going over to the Czech Republic with a great group of guys who I can honestly call my friends on and off the floor, it’s all really fun. These guys are world calibre athletes. They have a lot of high level ice hockey background that choose ball hockey to be their primary sport.
SS: What draws you personally to ball hockey vs. something like ice hockey?
CA: I think it’s just the ease and the socialization in the sport. You go and hang out with friends. There’s less of a barrier of entry to the sport too. I personally got into it because I was playing with my best friend who didn’t skate. I played ice hockey all my life, but he didn’t. I wanted to play with my best friend, so we started to play ball hockey together. That’s the cool thing about this sport, if you can run and handle a stick, you’re in.
SS: How long have you been involved with the organization?
CA: I’ve been involved with BHi for seven years now. I’ve been playing ball hockey for about eleven years.
We want to thank Chad for taking the time to sit down and answer some questions. We wish him and the rest of the BHi Great Britain Heritage Team the best of luck at the tournament. Live coverage of the games can be found right here and the games’ schedules can be found here.