Athletics at Palisades can be pretty much be summed up in two words: successful and diverse.Between championship winning football teams in the fall, standout wrestlers ruling the mats in the winter and undefeated soccer teams administering daily beat downs in the spring, this rurally located school has been collecting a fair share of both recognition and trophies.
But there remained one sport that has gone almost completely disregarded in the entire history of the high school. A sport that not only is common to see being played right outside your window by fleet footed children on the street, but also remains as one of North America's most popular pastimes.
Now, after a wonderfully successful attempt by a couple of hockey fanatics at starting Palisades' first ever team, the school that used to neglect the sport is turning out to be a hockey powerhouse.
And this is only their first year.
"It's been great, we are doing real good right now," said Brandon Herrman, an 8th grader on the Ice Pirates. "We are 6-1-1 and we are really killing some of these teams."
The name Herrman is a familiar one when it comes to Palisades ice hockey. Brandon and brother Wesley are both on the team. Their father Jeff is coaching the talented rookie team.
But when it comes to how the team was formed, all three played an integral role in the creation of it.
"My sons have played hockey at Hatfield Ice (where the Pirates play) for a number of years," said Jeff. "When we moved into the Palisades school district a few years back, they just kept asking me if there was a chance we could start a team up."
"So we started to put up flyers with information about the team," continued Brandon. "And kids called and we got the team together. "
The Pirates currently play in the spring league against many other local Bucks County high schools at Hatfield Ice. While the league somewhat pales in comparison to the much more organized and comprehensive Suburban High School Hockey League (SHSHL), which plays in the winter, Palisades has clearly left its mark in the spring league.
"It has been good," said eleventh grader Clay McBrien, who scored a goal in the Pirates most recent 9-5 thrashing of Souderton. "It's been working out so far and we have been winning games."
The creation of the team has been a saving-grace for not only that small cluster of diehard hockey players at Palisades, but also the casual fans that are just coming out to learn to play the game. The team is a fusion of both, with those experienced veteran players intermingled with the true beginners of the sport.
"We have about five kids who have four years or more experience playing hockey and they just never got to play for their school," explained Jeff. "But for most of the team, this is their first opportunity to play. So far, everyone is having fun and everything is working out great. "
And the success of this maiden season has left everyone hoping this won't be the last that anyone hears the words "Pirates" and "Hockey" together in the same sentence. While acceptance into the SHSHL looks unlikely; there rules and regulations that the Pirates might not be able to abide by and there remains the risk they might not have enough players; the possibility does exist that the Pirates will enlist as an independent team come fall.
"We are going to try to form this independent team and hopefully go around and play some of the JV teams," said Jeff. "We want to continue to give the kids an opportunity to play"
Still, the success of the Ice Pirates first season has been a wakeup call for the entire school, one that hopefully resonates with an increased popularity and appreciation for the sport.
But for the few that played on this rookie team though, this first season has already been a gift they won't soon forget.
"I've always wanted a hockey team for our school," said McBrien. "I thought it would never happen, but we finally got something going, and it has worked out great."
Kyle Gargan is an intern for The Free Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.