‘It’s like being a kid out there:’ Myrtle Beach Fire Department’s hockey team competes for charity
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - When they’re not suppressing fires or responding to medical emergencies, the Myrtle Beach Fire Department, along with other Grand Strand first responders, can be found on the ice.
“It’s like being a kid out there,” said Ross Porter, an engineer and paramedic for the City of Myrtle Beach.
A group of about 25 make up the roster of the MBFD’s hockey team.
“I mean we got guys that just started playing last year,” said firefighter Matt Chiarizio. “Never played ice hockey before in an organized league. They bought the equipment and now they’re on the team.”
For the last five years, the team has gotten out on the ice to have fun and take a break while also raising money for charity.
Since there isn’t an ice rink in the Grand Strand, however, the team has to make the trek either up to Wilmington or down to Charleston to play or practice.
“We travel all over,” said Chiarizo. “We just got back from Charlotte a month ago, we played the Charlotte Fire Department out there. It’s just hard not having a rink right in Myrtle Beach. We only had nine people travel to Charlotte so that was kind of a rough game for us.”
It’s something they hope to see change so they can host more games and have more opportunities to give back to the community.
“There’s just so many opportunities for a city to grow with ice hockey,” said Porter. “I think it would be a great asset for the sports tourism for the city.”
The team believes that an ice rink would be a significant attraction that Myrtle Beach could offer to boost the sports tourism industry in the area.
“It’s just a crazy opportunity,” said Lt. Brian Whittington, the President of the Myrtle Beach Professional Firefighters Association. “You know, sports tourism is so big in Myrtle Beach with basketball camps and baseball and softball and cheerleading. It’s such an opportunity. A unique opportunity to bring families down. To bring other teams down.”
The team will compete in its annual Fire on Ice game against the Baltimore City Fire Department on Aug. 20 at 6 p.m. at the Wilmington Ice House.
Tickets are $10 and the money raised will go to help Ronnie Green and his wife Monica, a recent cancer survivor, to help cover her medical bills.
“There’s two hockey teams coming together to raise money for a charity or a person who’s having a hard time,” said Porter. “We all can have hard times at many times in our lives and it’s just great that we can get together and get a crowd of people to come and donate.”
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