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’re calling: Player Profiles.
Steve Morriss, #42, is one of Team Great Britain’s right wing forwards. He talks about his expectations for the latter half of the tournament and how he feels about being in Europe for the first time.
Stick Skillz: How long have you been playing ball hockey?
Steve Morriss: Most of my life, really. I started playing competitive ball hockey when BHi opened – I think that was about seven years ago. I just kind of switched from ice hockey to ball hockey. I tried it the first year, loved it, and I’ve been coming back ever since.
SS: How did you come to be affiliated with the Great Britain Heritage Team?
SM: It’s kind of a funny story, I wasn’t asked to go. I didn’t go to the original tryouts, but I had heard through the grapevine that there was another position open, and I knew that I could do some great stuff with fundraising through my work, so I figured I’d ask Chad [Asselstine] and Chad said “yeah, we’d love to have you.” and sent me the invite the next morning.
SS: You mentioned that you used to play ice hockey, so what is it that draws you to ball hockey now, rather than continuing to play ice hockey?
SM: I think ice hockey is one of those things where it’s fun for me now, where ball hockey really keeps that competition in my life. I like being competitive. I like being active, and I think that having that competition in your life is good for the soul. The biggest thing I want to do is keep playing the game I love, and this is a good way to do it.
SS: At the time of this recording, Team Great Britain has won both of their games in shutouts – 6-0 against Europe and 18-0 against Hungary. I’d like to talk about the Europe game a little bit. What was going through your mind during the tournament opener?
SM: Well, I think we were all expecting a tough game to come into. I think that was the first big test of the tournament. We came out hard, and everybody was just hustling. I know that from my end, it’s the hardest I’ve run for any game I’ve ever played. I knew what to expect from our team and I think we definitely exceeded that. Essentially we dominated them, especially in their end zone. One of the things that I really enjoyed about watching that game is just how the chemistry came together really quickly. A lot of us have never played together before, and if we have it’s usually against each other. It was great to see the guys come together and get those goals, and we got a big win out there. I’m certainly very proud of everybody.
SS: You talk about the team not really playing together before the WBHF. How do you think everybody is meshing together on the floor?
SM: I think that everybody’s doing a great job. Everybody’s talking out there, and supporting each other. The forwards are supporting the d-men, and the d-men are saying that we’re just making it easy for them, because we’re always there for a pass and we’re quick to get the ball up the floor. There have been good shots on net, good rebounds, and I think the team is exceeding expectations at this point. We’re looking like a team that has played together for years.
SS: Is this your first international tournament?
SM: I’ve been to a few indoor A level tournaments in London, and I’ve been to a few tier one tournaments, but this is definitely my first international tournament.
SS: So I’m assuming this is your first time in the Czech Republic.
SM: This is my first time in Europe, yeah.
SS: What has been your favourite part of the Czech Republic so far?
SM: So far, Prague. Prague is just amazing. It’s such a gorgeous place to look at, and the architecture – I’m a huge fan of architecture being in the line of business I’m in [Steve is a Planning Technician for a land developer in London, ON] – and I think that just to know that city has been around for so long and has retained so much of its culture, like the beautiful buildings, the cobblestone walkways, the bridges and the urban setting within a big metropolis…it’s just a gorgeous place to be and it was a great experience.
SS: What are you expecting out of the rest of the WBHFC?
SM: Every game that we play from here on out is going to be going for the win. We don’t expect anything else from ourselves at this point…we’ve got two big wins under our belt. I think one of the biggest things that we need to keep in mind is that we’ve got the USA tomorrow, and that’s not a team that we can take lightly. If we win against them then we take first in our division, but that just means that our competition is going to get harder and harder as we go along. We can’t get complacent, we’ve got to keep hustling, keep getting shots on goal, and keep playing our game.
SS: Was there anything you did differently in your training regimen leading up to this international tournament?
SM: Just trying to eat right mostly. Trying to get an hour run in every night…not really trying to set a distance or anything like that. I wasn’t a huge long distance runner before. Ball hockey’s more sprint, go, sprint, go, so thats kind of what I focused on…sprinting half a kilometre then walking a bit, and then repeating that at least three times a night. I also just tried to play as much ball hockey as I can. I picked up a few extra games, I tried playing with the Generals, so it was definitely a higher level than anything I had ever played, and now this tournament is even a step above that. I just tried to up what I normally do, and tried to get healthy.
SS: What’s your general feeling heading into the USA game tomorrow?
SM: It’s going to be a tough opponent. It’ll be our toughest test for sure. Just watching them, and seeing how fast they are, and how well they move the ball in comparison to our other competitors thus far is impressive. We can’t take these guys lightly. We need to take it to them hard, and we need to do it right from the start.
SS: Do you have anything else you want to say before we wrap this up?
SM: It’s a huge honour to be here with these guys, and I’m just learning so much. I know that I’m the grandpa on the team, but I’m just proud to get the floor time that am and to contribute the best that I can. I thank Chad and Dan for this opportunity, and I’ll cherish this time forever.
We’d like to thank Steve for taking the time to sit down and answer some questions for us. 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.