Youths persevere, set world record

Thirty local youths played ball hockey for 50 and a half hours straight this past weekend at Frank Crane Arena.

Aaron Schulze embraces teammates in the moments after he and his Youth Sticking Together group break the world record for the longest indoor ball hockey game. Thirty players established a new mark

Aaron Schulze embraces teammates in the moments after he and his Youth Sticking Together group break the world record for the longest indoor ball hockey game. Thirty players established a new mark

They set a world record, and at the same time, they accomplished so much more than that.

Thirty local youths achieved their goal this past weekend at Frank Crane Arena, playing ball hockey for 50 and a half hours to put themselves in the book of Guinness World Records.

“I’ll say it again: not even NHL million-dollar stars could probably do this,” said Tali Campbell, the event’s organizer. “But these youths put their mind to it, their dedication and their heart and they did it.”

Last year, Campbell’s Youth Sticking Together group made an attempt at the world’s longest outdoor street hockey game and made it halfway to its goal. Immediately, players wanted to try again, and their desire was intensified when one of last year’s participants, Gage Wilson, was killed in a car crash.

So this past weekend they were playing not only for a world record, but also for redemption, and a wish to memorialize their friend the best way they knew how.

“We had the right group of guys,” said Aaron Schulze, one of the players. “We had a bunch of great people here and the memories of Gage helped us get through this.”

It wasn’t easy. At about the 20-hour mark one guy got injured and another opted to call it quits. That first night, in the wee hours, with not a soul in the stands supporting them, players started to question themselves.

“That’s when we really had to keep each other going,” said Brighton Bartlett, a team captain.

One player had to get his knee popped back into its joint. Other knees gave out, too, and players got bumps and bruises. Some of the injuries will take a long time to heal, Bartlett said.

“A lot of people were getting hurt in there but they wanted it. They wanted the record,” he said. “They wanted to do this for themselves, for each other and for Gage.”

The guys might have looked sore and slow in stretches, but not at the end of the game. As they entered the final hour of play, they sped up and played some spirited hockey for the spectators that had gathered to witness the record-breaking moment.

The entire arena counted down the last seconds, and one team scored a goal right at the 50-hour mark, and players on both teams, even the one that got scored on, raised their arms in victory.

On the benches, players hugged, or sobbed, or both.

“I can’t believe how proud I am of every single one of these guys…” Campbell said. “There’s a lot of stereotypes that youth are bad in the community, but this event here just showed they’re not. They beat this record, they fought for it, they were leaders out there and they raised money for charity.”

Proceeds from the event benefited Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Vancouver Island.

The game will go in the books as a 931-898 final score, with the First Capital Realty team defeating the University Village Mall team. But these guys were all one team – one family, Bartlett said – and this time, their team won.

“We managed to get a second chance. In life you don’t always get them,” Schulze said. “We got a second chance and we made sure we did it this time.”

sports@nanaimobulletin.com