The St. Thomas men’s rugby club is keeping busy during their off season by lacing up their skates.
A group of the players will participate in the second annual Jack Jablonski Junior Bronze Pond Hockey Tournament on Jan. 27 at Maynard’s on Lake Minnetonka, in Minnetonka, Minn.
Jack Jablonski suffered an injury while playing hockey in December 2011 that left him paralyzed.
Freshman Mike Mahoney attended school with Jablonski and graduated from Benilde-St. Margaret’s in 2012. Mahoney participated in the tournament last year in high school and decided he wanted to play again this year.
“I thought well, I’m still close and it’s a good cause, so I thought I’d just ask some rugby guys if they wanted to get involved and come play some hockey,” Mahoney said. “It’s always fun to play pond hockey.”
The tournament is a charitable event, teaming up with the North American Pond Hockey Championship to donate 100 percent of profits to the Jack Jablonski Believe in Miracles Foundation. The foundation aims to help others who are in situations similar to Jablonski’s.
“Jack has gone through so much in the past year of his life, it’s just nice to be able to show support for him in any way possible, and this is a positive way of doing that,” Mahoney said.
Mahoney decided to enlist several other rugby members and form a team. The team sits at six men, but senior Will Bailey said they hope to gain a more members before Sunday’s tournament.
Bailey said many of the rugby players were eager to help out in any way they could.
“It sounded like it would be a fun time, and it’s a great way to give back to somebody who went through a life-altering event, and it allows us to help him and his family out,” Bailey said.
Last year was the first year the tournament was held, and it ended up being wildly successful. More than 1,000 people showed up for the event, and more than $50,000 was raised for Jablonski and his family.
Bailey said that he thinks there’s a good chance this year could be even more successful.
“This is the second year they are doing it, so I would assume more people would come,” Bailey said. “Especially since it’s a 100 percent charitable event with the North American Pond Hockey Championship.”
While the event may be a tournament, Bailey said the St. Thomas team is really just there to have a good time.
“We’re a whole bunch of kids who never played hockey, per say,” Bailey said. “We’re pond hockey kids.”
Gabrielle Martinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.