By Fort Myers NBC 2 News Staff
The Florida Eels, a junior league hockey team based in Fort Myers, are cruising through the season at 16-5. With a grueling schedule comes vigorous training and conditioning.
“We skate five times a week, workout five times a week, stick handle, shoot too, and we play games every weekend,” said Reid Wilson, Florida Eels defenseman.
They take a beating on the ice, so Eels general manager Frank Scarpaci partnered with Tara Mina for another kind of exercise. Once a week, the Eels trade out their sticks and pucks for a yoga mat. Tara meets with the Eels USPHL Premier and Elite teams for an hour-long yoga session at the Fort Myers Skatium.
“I said guys, let me tell you something you’re gonna think ‘hockey yoga, what’s the reason?’ It works with the mind tremendously,” said Eels general manager Frank Scarpaci. “The body, you know, it gives you that flexibility.”
A few weeks into the new workout sessions, the guys have shown some progress.
“It’s a really good unwind we have usually after our practices,” said Eels forward Fynn O’Neill. “It’s really good just to kind of release the mind, let everyone relax, stretch out.”
“I think it’s awesome,” said defenseman Sean Burke. “I definitely feel like my legs are looser and more stretched out.”
The Eels say they are all very competitive, and most players’ goal is to play college hockey. In their 18 years in Fort Myers, they’ve sent 349 boys to play at the collegiate level.
“I’m looking for this team to give me an extra edge,” said O’Neill. “Whether it’s in college or another year here, I just want to get better.”
And with the extra physical and mental control and team bonding that Tara’s yoga provides for the team, they see themselves only getting better.
“I’ve seen it in the flexibility of our boys,” said Scarpaci. “Already, I’ve seen it. But you know what? It gives them that energy and a lot of people don’t even have a clue what this is. And we see it working.”
“[Tara’s] a great yoga trainer and everything, and she honestly is probably the best thing to help with our organization,” said Wilson.
The Florida Eels are back in action at home on December 2, hosting the Jacksonville