Jalapeño chips, knee pads and witty banter. Welcome to SME Knee Hockey club, the self-proclaimed only knee hockey league in the world.
Students of all grades, from debaters to cross country runners, turn desks on their sides and set up the boundaries in rooms 507 and 512 every Wednesday after school. President of the club, senior Bhavish Dinakar, sets up the “field” with his five red knee hockey sets equipped with nets and sticks. Then the games begin.
Teams of four play against each other, and the competition gets heated. Players shuffle around on their knees and bottoms, making passes, bouncing the yellow foamy ball off the wall and shooting it towards the goal across the dark carpet. The game ends once three goals have been scored, so matches fly by quickly.
According to Dinakar, knee hockey club provides a positive atmosphere for people to relieve their stress after focusing on notes and assignments for seven hours. Many kids get cut from varsity sports or don’t have the time to commit to the schedule of school athletics, so they join the club that offers them physical activity, even if that means standing on knees.
“We just wanted a fun way that people could hang out at school and get some sort of exercise, but [it] still be entertaining,” Dinakar said. “It’s just a way that everyone can be together.”
According to sophomore Matthew Trecek, the game can be difficult to adjust to at first, but becomes much easier once you “find your style”. It quickly becomes a great way to spend time with friends.
“The community is really good,” Trecek said. “Even if you go, you don’t have to play very long.”
The club isn’t strictly organized. There aren’t many rules to the game or specific skill requirements, either. As soon as there are a few people gathered inside, the ball is set up for the face-off which marks the beginning of each game. From there, students simply play.
Around 15 people consistently show up every week, but it fluctuates depending on the time of year; when participants have athletic practices after school, attendance drops. The club hit their record attendance last year with over 70 members during a few weeks in the winter.
“I felt like I had really made an impact in the school,” Dinakar said.
One of the club’s main advertisements is the official knee hockey club snack: jalapeno chips. Jalapeno chips first became a beloved treat when Dinakar and his brother Akshay, shared fourth hour Spanish along with fellow club founders Will Brownlee and Brooks Kendall. Kendall always had jalapeno chips in his lunch, which he shared with the others. When they all started the club, the Dinakars made him bring a bag each week. From then on it was tradition.
Their fourth hour Spanish teacher, Jennifer Holder, became the sponsor of knee hockey club. Since the Dinakar brothers asked her to sponsor when they first thought of the idea, Holder has dependably taken her seat at her desk in the corner every Wednesday after school. Holder loves the relaxed atmosphere and the fact that more often than not, the players are so consumed with their game, they forget she’s even there.
“It’s kind of like being in some kid’s basement,” Holder said. “I never had any sons but it feels like I’m listening in to what they’re saying and it’s fun to listen in on their conversation.”
The conversation is one of the best parts for its participants. According to Dinakar, it’s a great way to meet new people and get to know them.
“Knee hockey is a way where you would meet people that you would normally have no other interaction with,” Dinakar said. “A freshman who’s only in robotics club and a senior who’s quarterback of the football team would go to knee hockey, but otherwise they would not see each other.”