Take a closer look at the next person who zooms past you on rollerblades. They could be a “Dirty Bird.”
Eastern Michigan's club roller hockey team, nicknamed the Dirty Birds, is beginning its fourteenth season under coach Adam Golchuk. Their nickname comes in part from their gritty reputation.
“We’re like the Joe Lunchbucket school. We pay for everything,” said Golchuk.
As a club team, the Dirty Birds have to raise a lot of their own funds, something they do through golf outings and t-shirt sales. Despite their lack of resources, EMU’s roller hockey team has a long, successful history. They’ve won four regional championships since 2004 and are looking to build on that this year.
The Dirty Birds play in the Midwest Collegiate Roller Hockey League Division I, which includes Miami (Ohio), Michigan State, Grand Valley State, UM, and Ohio State. Over the years, EMU’s roller hockey team has developed a rivalry with Michigan State and Ohio State.
“We hate Michigan State,” said Golchuk. “And then we’ve got to travel down to Columbus October 31st and play OSU. They don’t like Michigan people down there.”
They’re having open tryouts this Sunday at 10PM at Total Roller Hockey in Novi, but are encouraging anyone to drop-in on their practices Wednesdays at 10PM at Canfield Arena in Dearborn Heights.
“Our hope for this season is that we’ll have more turnout. Last year we were really short-benched and it was tough to play against teams that have 13 or 14 guys on their bench because they would just skate circles around us,” said senior and club vice president Mike Laritz.
“Two years ago I had no idea this program even existed, so we’re just trying to raise awareness on campus,” said senior and club president Nick Massa.
Massa was handed the reigns to the Dirty Birds last season after the previous president graduated.
“I said I don’t want to see this program die because we’ve had a lot of success in the past five years or so,” said Massa.
The Dirty Birds are trying to increase their numbers by reaching out on social media. Their website, Facebook and Twitter accounts are active.
Coach Golchuk said the team plays its home games at Canfield Arena but that EMU really needs its own rink on campus.
“Michigan State has its own rink,” he said. “We need a rink on campus, one, so we can practice, and two, I think it would be a place where people can come and skate. All of the students could come and skate. I think we could really connect to the community that way.”
The team has trips to Columbus and Pennsylvania planned for this year.
EMU’s roller hockey team is open to men and women. There are no age restrictions. Players are required to be taking a minimum of nine credit hours.
Their first preseason game is on October 17, at Joe Dumars Fieldhouse in Shelby.
Anyone with questions should contact Coach Golchuk at (734)637-4152.