We take you back twenty years for the first chapter of a story about a close-knit group of UCSD students, floor hockey, and a magical pony. Well, it involves most of that stuff—two thirds, to be exact. In 1997, Mark DeGraffenreid, Revelle ‘97, was a senior at UCSD, and intramural floor hockey was his life. As the sport was only offered two quarters a year at UCSD, his life was woefully incomplete—half complete, to be exact. With the consent of the powers-that-be at RIMAC, Raj Patel, Revelle ‘97, chartered the UCSD Floor Hockey League. We drafted teams and commissioned another Revelle grad (and super-stud goalie and now uber-famous and decorated children’s author), Dan Santat ‘98, to design the logo for the league’s first team shirts. The league ran the course of that spring in 1997. Then again the following spring. Then the following spring and summer. The league was growing in popularity, and was generating a community of players who got together on and off the court all year long.
New teams are created each season via a draft. This creates parity amongst the newly formed teams, and fosters a fun and supportive environment, where players of all skill levels can learn and compete. It also means that your bitter opponent one season may be your favorite teammate the next. Our “spirit of the league” philosophy encourages having fun above all else, although the adrenaline rush of the sport can produce some heated battles.
UCSD officials eventually decided that we were becoming a bit too far removed from our college days, and we had to leave our beloved Rec Gym and find another place to play. A series of jumps to rinks around the county eventually brought a name change as well, but many of the original UCSD players still participate in what is now the San Diego Floor Hockey League (SDFHL). That’s two decades, from idea to institution, with countless friendships, marriages, and offspring resulting from our little co-ed community. In fact, Mara Bernd, Muir ‘95, met her future husband, goalie Josh Bernd, Muir ‘98, in the Rec Gym. They were both drafted in the inaugural season by their captain, Eric Kline, Revelle ‘98 (now married to hockey stud-ette, Dorothy Kline, Revelle ‘02). Some other hockey couples met on the rink, while others recruited their spouses to our novice-friendly league.
Mark proudly serves as the President of the league, which is now a registered non-profit organization (www.sdfhl.org) with hundreds of members and a Board of Directors (including Mark, Mara, Don Tran, Revelle ‘02, Hima Joshi, Ph.D. ‘01, Jeremy Copp, Ph.D. ‘03, and Min-Soo Smith, Muir ‘05). We play year-round every Sunday at the 4S Ranch Boys & Girls Club and have attracted players from all over the county, indeed, the continent. We have hosted teams from Los Angeles and Toronto in tournaments, and we regularly send teams to the annual Sin City Shootout Street Hockey Tournament in Las Vegas. Dan has honored us again by creating the 20th anniversary logo for us this season, just as he did in the spring of 1997.
We have come a long way since our days in the Rec Gym on the UCSD campus, but in many ways, little has changed. We have always, and always will (as long as the Rec Gym is standing), come back to our alma mater, the birthplace of our league, to share old stories, develop a few new bruises, and remember all of our fun times together. We no longer play our league games on an indoor “floor,” but we have purposely kept the term “floor” in our name, as a proud homage to our UCSD intramural origin story. Speaking of origin stories, about that magical pony…