Bousley, a technology education student from Sturgeon Bay, calls underwater hockey “the ultimate sport.”
Players battle six-on-six through two 15-minute halves over a weighted puck at the bottom of a pool, at a depth of about 6½ feet. With no air tanks, only diving masks, snorkels and fins, players hold their breath while slashing the puck along with short one-handed sticks. If they need air, snorkels allow competitors to keep an eye on the game before quickly diving back under to rejoin the fray.
Unlike ice hockey, however, players do not have designated positions, and there is no goalie. They cover zones – forward, midfield and back. Bousley plays as a wing in the midfield on the sides of the team’s formations.
“I work as an offensive and defensive player. I assist the forwards in pushing up the pool and the backs in defending counterattacks. It’s a very fun position because I get to do a little bit of everything,” he said.
The U.S. is sending four teams to compete, one in each division: elite women, elite men, masters women and masters men. The elite men’s first game versus Great Britain is scheduled for 8:08 a.m. Saturday, July 22, or 5:08 p.m. on Friday, July 21, Central Standard Time.
“This team is at the highest level of competition and performance in this sport and is made up of the best-performing 12 individuals from throughout the United States,” Bousley said.
All games will be streamed live on the championship website and available for playback via the Underwater Hockey Australia YouTube channel. Bousley will share his journey on his Facebook page and Instagram page.
Beginning his UWH journey
Bousley first heard about underwater hockey six years ago while at a swimming practice from his now-coach Kendall Banks, a veteran of 39 U.S. national championships and 13 world championships.