The high school band battled giant speakers that were blasting music. The gym was full of students and parents watching in anticipation, cheering for their favorite teams. It was the championship game of the 50th floor hockey season at East Lansing High School.
ELHS finished its annual, six-week floor hockey season March 26. Tom Cleary said that floor hockey is a long-standing tradition that has lasted more than 50 years. He has been involved in the annual event for the last 30 years.
“Floor hockey is a league for just the students in the school. They’re playing for only one goal, and that is to win a hat in the championship of the tournament,” said Cleary. “This is how it is every year. Literally, it never changed.”
Every Saturday for six weeks, students arrive at the school at 8 a.m. Cleary said that the atmosphere is loud and exciting because the students cheer on their friends. They also bring speakers to play music and TVs to play video games.
White and blue hats with the words “East Lansing floor hockey champions” on the front serve as the prize for the winning teams.
Senior Zion Keyes said that floor hockey, referred to as flockey by students, is all about winning hats. She said the hats are the ultimate symbol of being a champion at ELHS.
“It’s the only goal. It’s all about pride and who’s the best class,” said Keyes. “It’s a lot of fun. I enjoy it a lot.”
Floor hockey is a tradition that brings students together. Freshman Olivia Van Dyke said it’s completely student-led. Everyone makes teams, gets jerseys and creates nicknames for each team member.
“It really brings you into the whole high school experience,” said Van Dyke.
Mark Pendred has been involved with floor hockey at ELHS for 20 years. He said the kids take their teams very seriously, and wear their jerseys to school every Friday during the season.
Keyes’s team won the girls’s championship game. She said that she has been looking forward to this day for four years. She said teams are already planning for next year’s flockey season, and she doesn’t see this tradition ending anytime soon.
“You start making teams the day that flockey ends,” Said Keyes. “You’re making trades, trying to get your roster to be the best and you’re trying to get your friends on your team to have fun.”