Two Georgians find spot on ice with Team Carolina

By Katie Harp

A young man from Augusta, Ga. has found the same sport his father gave up two decades ago to be more than just fun.

Chris Schilling plays hockey for Team Carolina, a Jr. C team based out of Raleigh, NC. Although he has only been skating for only a few short years, Chris has glided up the ranks, stopping a few pucks along the way.

“I went out, played and really liked it. I figured I might as well give it a shot,” Schilling said.

Augusta, best known for the Master’s Golf Tournament didn’t have a sheet of ice when Schilling’s parents, Steve and Barbara moved from Buffalo, Ny. 23 years ago. This forced Steve to give up the sport he had grown to love.

“There was no ice in Augusta when we moved here for the first 15 years,” Steve said. “I had to give up hockey to move here, but I think at the time my wife and I just wanted to get out of the cold weather.”

In Buffalo, Steve had begun playing hockey at an early age in recreational and men’s hockey leagues.

“It was just for fun. I never really took it seriously though,” Steve said.

However, when the Augusta Ice Sports Center opened, Steve soon rediscovered the game he loved.

“I got involved right away,” Steve said. “I played in a men’s league here. Up until this year, there were about 12 of us that traveled around playing in different tournaments.”

Chris soon took the ice as well.

His parents however were hesitant about him playing hockey. Chris had always been interested in sports but had never found a sport he liked playing.

“He tried T-ball and hated it. He tried to do karate and hated it. He bugged me for about two years about playing hockey,” Steve said.

While most kids his age in the North had been skating since they could walk, Chris was just learning at age 13.

“When he first started, he couldn’t even stand up on the ice. He would hold on to the sideboards. We bought him goalie equipment and watched him roll around,” Steve said.

“When I first started playing I was horrible,” Chris said. “I practiced skating and my parents bought me some goalie equipment and I got used to it.”

Chris first became involved playing for the same men’s league team as his father.

“He started playing in the league at 13. He was a goalie and we needed a goalie,” Steve said.

“When I first started playing, he would help me out as much as he could,” Chris said of his father.

Since then, Chris has played for several other teams including Midget Majors in both Augusta and Greenville, SC. In October 2004, Chris got his chance to play with Team Carolina.

“He has outdone anything we thought he would do,” Steve said.

“Each coach I have had has taught me different things about the game. I have learned and worked on these things,” Chris said.

The boys who play for Team Carolina are scattered throughout the Carolinas and Georgia. This causes them to only have team practices on the weekends.

“Chris will live at home during the season this year. We travel to take him to the team practices. We usually don’t go on the bus trips to games though,” Steve said.

Chris has a traveling buddy in fellow teammate and Augustan in defenseman Nick Dastoli. Only 16, this is Dastoli’s first year on Team Carolina.

“It’s nice because we can travel together,” Chris said. “It’s more fun that way.”

Before this year, Dastoli had been a member of the House Select team the Augusta Ice Sports Center.

“I had two great coaches last year. They told me I needed to get out of here because I wouldn’t get any place in a house league,” Dastoli said.

Like Schilling, Dastoli had tried different sports before deciding to stick with hockey.

“I played soccer at a Catholic school. Some friends got me to go ice skating and play hockey,” Dastoli said. “The reason I stuck with hockey is it is more fun and a faster pace.”

Through the week Team Carolina are to practice at the rink on their own.

Chris spends his time at the rink in Augusta during the week with mentor David Wilkie. Wilkie spent his career most notably playing for Montreal Canadiens and the Tampa Bay Lightning.

“I actually met him because he played in the same adult league as my dad,” Chris said. “He had been helping out another player, and they had been shooting at an empty net. They needed a goalie, and I volunteered to help.”

Both Dastoli and Schilling hope to go further climb up the ranks as they mature as player.

“I want to go as far as I possibly can go,” Dastoli said. “Hopefully I will go to at least Jr. A.”

“I’d like to play as long as I can,” Schilling said. “I hope to progress through the Jr. ranks and maybe play college.”

Team Carolina will start their season off with a trip to Buffalo Sept. 2 as they will face off against the Buffalo Stars.

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