Sawyer Strelnieks – Staff Writer
The Dordt Blades are on their 50th anniversary season as a club sport. The club has come a long way since it first began in 1968.
The Blades didn’t have a local home arena until the All Seasons Center opened across the street in 2003. Hockey fans used to travel all the way to Luverne or Sioux City just to watch a Blades game.
As a club team in their 50th season, the blades have truly proved that they deserve to be treated as a varsity sport at Dordt. Much like other varsity sports teams, the results of Blades games are sent to websites and livestream coverage of games is commonly available for family and fans out of town to keep up with the Blades.
“It speaks the longevity of the program and the fact that it has grown from a niche sport to a mainstream offering,” said Mike Byker, sports information director. “To last 50 years—they must be doing something right that is valued by students and supporters.”
Many locals, students, and alumni have invested their time and money into the Blades program, and their dedication continues to pay off as fans flock to Blades games and the club continues to grow bigger.
The Blades are currently a part of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). Due to the shortage of NAIA hockey teams in the midwest, switching associations would result in fewer games and more travel for the Blades if they became a varsity sport.
“We are more concerned with providing a positive playing experience for our student-athletes as opposed to focusing on whether they are a club or a varsity sport,” said Ross Douma, Dordt Athletics Director. “Thus, it makes more sense for Dordt to be part of the ACHA.”
The Dordt Blades are all about tradition. Generations of families have been involved in the program both as players and supporters. Supporters in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s were the ones that made it possible for the program to grow and stick around for 50 years.
“My dad played for the Blades when he went to Dordt, and I’m definitely proud to continue that tradition, I remember hearing stories of college hockey at Dordt when I was younger,” said Caleb Groot, a senior majoring in criminal justice and psychology. “50 years of club hockey is pretty impressive, every Blades player over that time has really done it because they love hockey.”
The Blades continue the tradition again this year, as they travel around playing in away games. The blades lost a double header this past weekend to Wisconsin-Lacrosse. Next week during Defender Days, the Blades host Wisconsin-Platteville on Friday at 8:00 PM and on Saturday at 4:30 PM.