Spartans invited to tee off for hockey

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:52

    Sparta - The Lake Mohawk Golf Club will be the site of a golf outing to benefit the newly organized varsity Sparta High School Ice Hockey program. The Sparta ice hockey program was founded in 2004 as a club team. In order to be eligible to represent the high school in interscholastic competition, the Sparta Board of Education had to approve the addition of a new sport to the athletic department's program. After an appearance by the team and coaches at a board of education meeting, the district approved the request but provided no funding. As a result, all expenses incurred by the team have fallen on the shoulders of the players and their parents, with the biggest expense being the cost of ice time. The closing of Skylands Ice World in Stockholm dealt a setback to the program, as Sparta, along with other local SCIL teams based at the site scramble for ice time. "We were paying $280/hour to practice at Skylands in the afternoon. Now, we will be paying $370/hr for a 10:15 p.m. practice slot at Chill Out Arena in Hackettstown," said Mike Vrabel, the team's head coach. "That time of night, on a school night wreaks havoc on our kids' sleep. But it's an indication of their level of dedication and passion they have for the sport, to be willing to practice at that time." In order to help defray some of the expenses, the team has organized a golf outing they hope will be an annual event. The golf outing is scheduled for Thursday, Sept. 15. Festivities start at 11 a.m. with registration and lunch followed by a shotgun start at 12:30 p.m. for 18 holes of stroke play. The event will wrap up with a gourmet BBQ dinner, raffles and the awarding of prizes, including a 2006 Ford Explorer, donated by Jack Trebour Ford/Suzuki for the winner of a hole-in-one. Corporation and business sponsorships are still available for tee boxes and/or greens, where the corporate name and logo will be prominently displayed. Sparta had a successful season last year as a first year entry in the scholastic JV league finishing a respectable 4-6, and qualified for the playoffs. The program has now grown to the varsity level for the upcoming season. "We have a great group of kids who are willing to work hard and I would hate needing to scale back their ice time because of lack of funds. Any fundraising we can successfully do will really help make it more affordable for everyone," said Tammy Vrabel, the team's booster club treasurer. "We are so grateful to all in the community who have already helped us with our efforts and also to the golf club that decided to donate a portion of the greens fees to our booster club." For more information on sponsorship or participation in the tournament, call Vrabel at 973-726-7851.