by Tyson Giuriato
From playing inline hockey on the beaches of the Turks and Caicos Islands to playing in the 2013 World Sport School Challenge, it’s been quite the journey for Oliver Wolf.
Located southeast of the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands is a small British Overseas Territory that doesn’t exactly scream ice hockey. In fact, the game is non-existent; the closest arena is about 600 miles away in the state of the Florida.
With temperatures that rarely dip below 18 ͦC and remarkable sandy beaches, the island of Providenciales – the largest of the Turks and Caicos Islands – is a dream vacation for some and a great place to grow up for others, such as Wolf, who moved to the island when he was four years old.
“Living in Providenciales was incredible,” said Wolf. “Just the environment itself was something else, always sunny, beautiful beaches and always something to do.”
With no ice hockey on the island, Wolf started playing inline hockey when he was six years old in the newly-formed Provo Hockey League and worked his way up to eventually play for the Turks Islanders national inline team for three seasons. The 17-year-old was captain of the Islanders for two seasons and got to travel to cities like Atlanta, Ga., and Raleigh, N.C., to compete in tournaments.
Although Wolf was enjoying the inline game, he wanted the experience of playing on ice, and at age 15 that was something that he and his parents started taking seriously.
After some research, the family discovered the Banff Hockey Academy, nestled in the Rocky Mountains in Banff, Alta. After an online interview with BHA president Billy Doherty, Wolf decided to head to Toronto for two weeks and partake in Roger Neilson’s Hockey Camp. This wasn’t the first time Wolf had been on the ice, having skated the odd time in a public skating environment; however, it was the first time playing ice hockey.
“I wanted to see how I would handle the transition from inline to ice and make my final decision on whether or not to go to Banff,” said Wolf. “The first time I stepped on the ice at the camp I was like ‘What did I get myself into?’
“I handled it well and was in Banff that September.”
With his family still residing in Providenciales, Wolf visits the island in the off-season and around Christmas. He says hockey has come a long way since he was a kid, when it was just a few people getting together to play ball hockey at some old tennis courts.
“Eventually so many people were playing they created an inline league and built a facility for us,” said Wolf. “It’s grown so much over the years and has become a part of the island now.
“The most popular sport on the island is soccer for sure, but hockey is a close second.”
Like most of the players competing at the World Sport School Challenge, Wolf will look to catch the eye of scouts in attendance in hopes of continuing his hockey career.
“I’ve always wanted to play hockey at a higher level,” Wolf said. “My dream is to play in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport one day.”