by Coach Dave Marmorstein:
The bald eagle is a large native bird in the United States of America. The eagle is our US National Emblem and stands for courage, strength and freedom. This is an inline hockey story about eagles. This story is about the hard work and dedication of the members of the inline hockey community across the United States and abroad. This is the story of the journey of an Argentinian inline hockey player from her native country of Argentina to the United States of America to pursue a dream and the freedom to play the game she loves so much.
The inline hockey world championships were hosted by Rosario, Argentina in 2014. The US women’s national inline hockey team had just won the gold medal and was rejoicing during a celebration at our hotel. Included in that nights celebration was one of two inline hockey players from the Argentinian national team from the host city of Rosario. Coach Sgrillo of the USA women’s team had invited the players to join us and celebrate a successful championship hosted by the city of Rosario and the success of our own women’s team’s performance.
Little did any of us know on that night a union would be forged between the US inline hockey federation (USARS) and the Argentinian inline hockey federation. During the night of celebration it was discussed that a possible training trip could be arranged between members of our two teams. Nothing was decided that night but a month later I received an email from one of the Argentinian players. “Coach Dave I want to come to America to train hockey” she said. So I said ok and thus started the journey of Macarena Ruth Aragones a slightly built female player from Argentina with the strength and courage to come to America and become a better inline hockey player to play in the 2015 world inline hockey championships in France.
After the initial email we spent the next two months preparing her to get a visa to come to America. The decision was for Coach Dave and Coach Sgrillo to each host Macarena for three months during her visit to the United States of America. Thanks to USARS and the late George Pickard who were instrumental in preparing recommendations and expediting the visa process. Thanks to Coach Sgrillo, my own family and our extended rink family at the Peoria SportsPlex in Arizona for helping with this journey. Without your help none of this would be possible.
By the end of October 2014 Macarena Ruth Aragones was in Phoenix Arizona embarking on the trip of a lifetime. Once again thank you to my own family for their kindness and understanding as we hosted a perfect stranger connected only by our love for the game of hockey. And love the game we did for the next three months. Macarena was playing hockey almost every day of the week and loving it. She came to America with a 29 mph wrist shot and left with a 42 mph wrist shot and bar down skills. But her trip was not limited to just bar down skills. We visited the red rocks of Sedona, hiked the seven summits of Phoenix, and went to the Grand Canyon, visited museums and cultural sites in Phoenix. Of course our love of the game and many trips to the arena allowed her to become an NHL Arizona Coyotes fan. Her favorite player was Max Domi who she got to meet.
This experience of having a perfect stranger from another country come and live with you could not have been more unknown. But our love for the game of inline hockey was known and carried us through. The desire to improve and compete was one of the most rewarding results of the hockey exchange. The courage and strength of those who made this all possible is representative of the bald eagle. And of course, thank you to our guest from Argentina who came to America to soar like an eagle.