By Ross Forman
The gay floor-hockey league has really taken off this winter, with 50 percent more players than last year and three more teams. In total, there are about 80 players, with 11 teams in two divisions.
There are five competing in the recreational division and six in the competitive division, and the league has more than 20 women playing this season.
"The league is going really well," said Andrew Sobotka, who, with Tony Tiet, are also members of the Chicago Gay (Ice) Hockey Association. (They also serve as the co-coordinators of the floor league.) "Center on Halsted is the perfect venue; we can run three games at a time and each team gets to play two games a night."
The season runs through April 29, with games played Sunday nights 6-8 p.m.
What has been this season's highlight?
"Well, there haven't been any fights, yet," Sobotka said with a smile. "The only difference [from past seasons] is that we have three games running at a time, which brings a new level of excitement to the atmosphere in the gym."
Sobotka, 26, plays on the gray team; most teams just go by shirt color. The only team name this season is Hustla's.
Players range in age from 21 to 50-plus, Sobotka said. Each team has a roster of about eight players, and games are played four-on-four (three players and one goalie per team).
"I think each season is really different," Sobotka said. "Some teams win one season and lose the next; it all depends on how long they've played together to build chemistry."
Sobotka said the league has a mix of straight and gay players.
"We plan to just keep running [the league] and hoping that, [through] word of mouth and some advertising, it will help to build what we think is a really great and fun sport," he said. "I think the highlights come when we have some really strong competition building and game play picks up. Plus, there are usually some fun times had at North End, the sponsor of the league, after the games."
Players can join at any point in the season. "Come check it out. It's more fun than you might expect," Sobotka said.