This article is posting on the website on the date that the 2020 Beach Bash Ball Hockey Tournament in Ocean City, MD was supposed to commence. In the words of our former #8 Colleen Murphy, veteran ball hockey player and Team USA Ball Hockey Star: “It’s going to be a big Whale reunion type of thing.” But the fates intervened, and the tourney, like so many other sporting event this year was cancelled die to the Covid pandemic. But last year’s event was another big one, and was well attended by the Pod, and led to the Whale acquiring their star goalie #1 Brooke Wolejko. In various forms, the story has been told in the interviews of the five Whale who played in Beach Bash 2019: Brooke, Colleen, Sarah Hughson, and Kayla Meneghin. So here are their recollections of some of what happened last year in Ocean City.
“It’s so funny! At that time Sam (Walther) hadn’t signed yet and I didn’t know Sam at the time either. And we were like: We don’t have a goalie, we need a goalie! That was the first time I met Brooke, and she is an awesome ball hockey goalie! She is so good and I was so mad, because we didn’t have enough spots to put her on my team, same with Hughie (Sarah Hughson) and Kayla (Meneghin). And the guy who runs the tournament wouldn’t let Hughie & Kayla play on my team, because we had too many good players. And their ended up winning, and I’m like: Are you kidding me? She just allowed one goal the entire tournament, and that was the first game that she ever played as a ball hockey goalie. OK, I said, she’s going to be OUR ball hockey goalie for everything else!"
"So we’re all going to come play down there, and I think Sonjia Shelley is coming down too, and she’s going to play out, she’s not going to be a goalie. That’s kind of what we’re looking forward to next, Just kind of get together with everyone and play in just a fun tournament. Huey, Kayla and Brooke are on my team, no questions asked, I will not play without them:). Witley will be the coach. I’m trying to convince Sam Walther to come down and play out too, it would be like the “goalies playing out team”, we’ll see how well that goes:) Brooke made a joke that she’s going to play out and throw me in net.! And I was like: Nope! Shannon Doyle might come down and play with us too. It’s going to be a big Whale reunion type of thing. I mean, I made the most friends when I played at the Whale. They were great people, they’re really my friends and they still are my friends. Huey is coming down to North Carolina to visit at the end of July, so they yeah. they were the best teammates I could have: and to definitely stay friends with”
“Well, I played with Brooke our senior year at Plattsburgh so I obviously knew her from that. Sarah and I had been getting into ball hockey and when we were getting ready for that tournament, someone reached out to Brooke, and said we needed a goalie. Brooke knew I played,so she reached out to me so we all headed down to Ocean City together to play. And, we won!"
“I got to pull Brooke into ball hockey last summer, which is such a funny story. Brooke and I grew up in the same area, so we knew of each other. We both played in prep school, and played against each other in college, but didn’t really know each other. And then she messaged me after World’s last year, because our GM had messaged her about playing ball hockey. And she asked me what it was like. So I invited her to come play in a tournament in Ocean City, Maryland just to try it out. And she came, had so much fun, and she did so well! We won the tournament, and then we convinced her to sign with the Whale. And then, it’s been great! I take a lot of credit for Brooke being on the Whale! I’m very excited for her, she’s such a good human.”
Brooke "Wojo" Wolejko
"We had a blast! I remember being nervous, I didn’t know what I was getting myself into playing ball hockey, I’d never played before. So here I am going to a tournament in Ocean City. I knew Sarah (I call her Hughie) from just growing up playing hockey. I played against her at Elmira, the hockey world’s small. So it was nice to have a familiar face to go to this tournament with. I remember Jason Kelly, he was the one who reached out to me about ball hockey and asked if I would be interested. I saw over social media that Hughie played on the USA Ball Hockey team, so I messaged her on Facebook and asked her thoughts about ball hockey, and she liked it. She told me she loves it, and I’d have to try it and told me about this tournament that was coming up in the summer, Ocean City. And they needed a goalie too, so it was perfect. I basically messaged her at the perfect time."
"And so, Kayla Meneghin was on that trip, she started playing too. This is basically how I found myself on the Whale. It’s just crazy how this happened. We took a picture at the end of the tournament, and Laura saw a picture that Hughie had posted and said: Who is this goalie, get me her name! Colleen Murphy was there also, that’s where I met Murph, Hughie and Murph had played for the Whale that past season. I just remember leaving at the end of the tournament, we were going our separate ways, they were all like you should really try out! Murph was like: Go to the Riveters! And Kayla and Hughie were like: Come to the Whale! At that point, I did not expect I’d be where I am today, I was just like, yeah, maybe. I was a year out of college, not playing competitive hockey, so that didn’t seem like something that was realistic. I was past that point, where I was just like: Oh, it’d be hard to come back. And then I get a message from Bray and Laura, just because of a picture of us playing ball hockey. It’s incredible. I have Hughie to thank for this incredible journey:)"
Cetacean Nation thinks that we have not heard the last of these off ice Whale. Just as the NWHL will return next year, so will Beach Bash, and the ISBHF World Championships and others. And wherever that orange ball is being used as a puck, we think you’ll find a Mimi-Pod of our Whale! Fins Up to that!