Even before the season began, the SEMO Roller Hockey Club gained a huge victory.
The Cape Girardeau-based club that fielded just one squad last year in the Collegiate Roller Hockey League expanded to two this season thanks to an overall roster that includes almost three dozen people.
And its growing interest didn't just end with participants: The club gained a sponsorship from Nike in the offseason that resulted in new equipment.
"We got a little more school support this year and we had more players come out, so it's been a good year," said Joe Gissy, a Southeast Missouri State University senior who helped form the team three years ago and is a player-coach for one of the teams. "We have enough people so that we have a pretty good roster for both teams with about three swing players that can play on either one."
Gissy, who attended high school in St. Louis, coaches the club's A-level team and plays defense. John Browne of Cape Girardeau is the coach of the club's B-level team.
The two-team system is the second try for the SEMO club after its attempt last year was cut short because of expenses. Because the team doesn't have a home floor in Cape Girardeau, most of its games are played in St. Louis.
Bringing home games back to Cape Girardeau is a priority, Gissy said, although a playing surface would cost as much as $100,000.
"We'd love to have a rink at the Rec Center, but we know it'll be tough to get it right now,"Gissy said. "We're doing what we can to get sponsors."
Thirty-five players are on this year's two teams, each of which compete on most weekends through the fall and winter against other Midwest Division II collegiate teams. The season will end with a national A-level tournament in Anaheim, Calif. Last year's finals were in Philadelphia, but Gissy said the team didn't attend because of the financial commitment required and ended up ranked 13th nationally. The club's goal this year is to have another shot at a championship on the A level as well as the B level, which this year will feature playoffs for the first time because of a growing number of teams.
One perk that helped on the financial side this year was the club's partnership with Nike that allowed it to buy equipment and uniforms at a discount.
"The Midwest area is big for some of the other companies and manufacturers, so there was nothing with Nike at all," Gissy said. "When we found out Nike had expanded into the roller hockey market, we jumped on it. This is big boost for us, and it's big exposure for them since we're playing all our games in St. Louis already."
Fall soccer season takes a big step next week
The Cape Area Youth Soccer Association will welcome more than 100 teams next week for the 15th annual Fall Classic River Rage Tournament.
Games are Nov. 7, 8 and 9 at Shawnee Park Sports Complex and will feature teams for first grade through high school. It's the final event in a three-week series of recreation-level tournaments that began last week in Carbondale, Ill., and continues this weekend in Sikeston.
Of 106 teams pre-entered, 13 are from Cape Girardeau, 14 from Jackson and 14 from Perryville. Most of the others are teams from Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois.
Games will start at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 7 and resume at 8 a.m. Nov. 8 with finals Nov. 9. Twelve fields will be used.
Jamie Hall is the sports editor of the Southeast Missourian. Send your community news to firstname.lastname@example.org.