News>The Commissioner: A hockey fan leads the Marauder League
SOUTHWEST ASIA – Senior Airman Dylan Gillis, 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron, heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician and the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing’s hockey league commissioner, weaves in-and-out of the Canadians during a hockey game here Oct. 12. Gillis has been playing hockey since his parents gave him his first hockey stick at the age of 3. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte)
SOUTHWEST ASIA – Airmen, Soldiers, Sailors and Canadians are spectators of the USA versus Canada hockey game here Oct. 12. Team USA was comprised of Airmen of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte)
SOUTHWEST ASIA – A Canadian hockey player takes a break from the floor during the USA versus Canada hockey game here Oct. 12. The Canadians took the game, beating the Americans 12-4. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte)
SOUTHWEST ASIA – A member of Team USA and Team Canada battle for the hockey puck during the third period of the hockey game here Oct. 12. The Canadians took the game, beating the Americans 12-4. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte)
SOUTHWEST ASIA – Col. David Farrow, 386th Air Expeditionary Wing commander drops the hockey puck in the start of the first period of the game between Team USA and Team Canada here Oct. 12. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte)
SOUTHWEST ASIA – Warrant Officer 1 Terri Wood, Canadian hockey player, holds the championship trophy after beating Team USA, 12-4. The event brought personnel together from two allied nations to “battle it out” floor hockey style for bragging rights. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte)
by Staff Sgt. Alexandra M. Boutte
386th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
10/29/2012 - SOUTHWEST ASIA -- He was three-years old when he held his first hockey stick. 19 years later he is not only still playing, but leading a league.
Senior Airman Dylan Gillis, 727th Expeditionary Air Control Squadron Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning technician, is the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing's hockey league commissioner and player. When he arrived, Gillis jumped at the chance to bring the excitement of hockey to the wing, otherwise known as "The Rock."
"It's a sport where Marauders can come together each week to have fun, develop teamwork skills, socialize, improve morale and get some exercise," Gillis said.
Each team devotes time helping set up the gym floor for game night, bringing in equipment, rearranging benches and boards to mark the "rink's" boundaries, and cleaning-up at the end of the night.
"Everyone cooperates with one another," Gillis said. "Whether it's joining or leaving the league, working around conflicting schedules, or other issues. It has really been a base-wide effort to get the assets and support we need to keep the league running."
The grassroots league is run by its participants who are largely made up of junior personnel.
The Canadians forces, assigned to a nearby location were also instrumental in providing all necessary equipment.
Game nights are three hours long, allotting time for four different game slots. Three games are scheduled according to team line-ups and the fourth is a pick-up game in which anyone can participate.
There are approximately 10 teams participating in the hockey league and Gillis expressed hope that it will grow beyond its current state.
"This broad spectrum of participants goes to show the interest and popularity of the sport," Gillis said.
Recently, Gillis and his committee hosted a game between Team USA members and the number one team in the league, Team Canada, for a rival game.
The event brought personnel together from the two allied nations to "battle it out" floor hockey style for bragging rights. The game, dubbed "The Miracle on the Gym Floor," drew inspiration from the title of the movie "Miracle on Ice," which tells the story of the 1980 Olympic hockey game where the underdog American team beat the favored Russian team.
The anticipation of the friendly game brought out the "trash talkers" and "game makers." Players, coaches and referees from both sides amped up the fans and got the whole base involved.
"The hype was good," said Sergeant George Philpott, Team Canada coach and player. "The build up to the event really got people excited and involved."
This momentum was maintained all the way to the opening ceremony, which featured the base honor guard and the national anthems of both competing countries and that of the host nation as well.
"It was amazing to see the flags up and the honor guard doing the national anthems," Philpott said. "It was fantastic seeing the effort put into setting up the game."
In the end, Team Canada beat Team USA 12-4. There was no "Miracle on the Gym Floor," as hoped. There was, however, a raucous hockey match that had Canadians and Americans alike leaving the gym smiling, joking and excited for the chance of another match.
"The Americans played well. I was very impressed with how they played," said Sergeant Chris McLean, Canadian referee. "Both sides put in an enormous amount of effort."
Gillis is at the end of his rotation but the league lives on. Staff Sgt. Ryan Sofranko, 387th Air Expeditionary Group airfield manager, is picking up the commissioner duties.