Grand Strand hockey fans want more support for winter sports

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - With all eyes on Sochi for the Winter Olympics, some winter sports enthusiasts in the Grand Strand say there's not enough attention being devoted to cold weather athletics.

"There're a hundred baseball fields in Myrtle Beach, but only one hockey rink," said Scott Clough, president of the Grand Strand Inline Hockey Association. The group has played hockey at an outdoor rink near the Crabtree Gym for 16 years, but recently Clough says registration is down for young hockey players.

"The mites, the younger kids, drive the whole organization," he said. "If we don't have a good turnout in mites, then our junior program will be lacking."

Clough believes not enough attention has been brought to the hockey league, and an ice rink or other winter sports facilities could be a huge boon to the Grand Strands burgeoning sports tourism industry. But industry leaders say they aren't seeing enough interest in those types of sports.

"We're seeing a lot of interest in cheerleading, volleyball," said Phil Render, Dean of Business for Horry Georgetown Technical College. The school's new sports tourism program will be under Render's leadership.

"We look forward to filling more shoulder seasons," he said.

Clough says hockey can thrive here, and Coastal Carolina University has already established an ice hockey team. But a team member told WMBF News they both practice and play at the nearest ice rink in Wilmington, North Carolina.

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