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From ice to concrete: Rosales pursues passion for hockey


OTTOWA,Canada – Lt. Col. Miguel Rosales, 21st Space Wing plans and programs chief, plays goalie at the 2010 Canadian Forces College Internationals vs. Ottawa Service Attachés' Association Annual Hockey Game at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Rosales first tried hockey in 2009 while attending CFC and helped start a Ball Hockey Tournament at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado in 2014. (Courtesy photo)


PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Lt. Col. Miguel Rosales, 21st Space Wing plans and programs chief, plays goalie at the first USA vs. Canada Ball Hockey Tournament at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, Feb. 21, 2014. The next ball hockey tournament on base is on Feb. 23 at the roller hockey rink, and any man or woman on base is welcome to play. (U.S. Air Force photo by Robb Lingley)

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- When other Airmen see Lt. Col. Miguel Rosales, 21st Space Wing plans and programs chief, blocking attempted goals in a USA vs. Canada Ball Hockey Tournament at Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado, they might be surprised to learn that he has only played hockey for the past decade.

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Rosales joined the Air Force in 1996, and first participated in hockey while attending school in 2009 at the Canadian Forces College in Ontario, Canada, the country known for its hockey excellence.

After being stationed at Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, Rosales attended the Canadian college in 2009 when he joined his first hockey team to become more embedded in the country’s culture.
“When I was in the Canadian Forces College, the Canadians were great hosts,” Rosales said. “They wanted you to be part of the Canadian experience, so they said, ‘All students … we want you to participate (In a sport) and be part of our school, be part of our country. You can play cricket, rugby, soccer or you can play hockey.’ So I said, ‘Why wouldn’t I? I’ll try hockey.’”

Since being stationed at Peterson AFB since 2012, Rosales and other Airmen put together a USA vs. Canada Ball Hockey Tournament, which is played with athletic shoes instead of skates and a ball instead of a puck, in honor of the Winter Olympics in 2014, and again in ’15, ’16 and ‘17.

“The idea is to have camaraderie between the U.S. and Canadian forces that are working here,” Rosales said. “We’ve worked together for many years, so why not play something that’s fun?”

Rosales said there will be another USA vs. Canada Ball Hockey Tournament Feb. 23 in tandem with this year’s Winter Olympics in PyeongChang County, South Korea.

The first time Rosales put on a pair of skates, it was a challenge, he said.

“Skating was very difficult, said Rosales. “It still is, but not as much as it used to be. I could barely stand in those skates, and stopping was either running into somebody or the wall. Hitting the puck was a maybe. If it came close by I tried to hit it; I was lucky if I did.”

Eventually Rosales played goalie for his team and was recognized for his skills in this position. He learned to play goalie and continued in the sport because of the joy he gets from being on the ice with the other players.

“The nice thing about hockey is no matter what, no matter how heated it gets during the game, at the end of it everybody takes their gloves off and we all shake bare hands,” Rosales said. “It was all for fun in the end.”

This month, Rosales said he would like to see more Airmen participate in the USA vs. Canada Ball Hockey Tournament at Peterson AFB.
“(In the past), unfortunately there was a lot of, ‘I don’t play hockey, I don’t know what to do.’ I said, ‘Just go out there. If you can hold a stick and you can hit a ball, you can play. You don’t need any skates,” Rosales said. “If you want to try, just try. No one’s going to laugh at you. Just do something different, something that’s out of your comfort zone. If you try it, you might like it.”

Rosales said he will send out an email with rules and details on how to sign up for the USA vs. Canada Feb. 23 game.

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