33 Years Later, The Chicago Clowns Still Come Back to the Pond

By Greg Bates – Special to USAHockey.org

Chicago ClownsGrowing up in Schaumburg, Ill., Jeff Glover and his buddies used to always find a frozen pond or river on which to play hockey. At 10 years old, the boys loved the game. Now, 33 years later, they’re still playing pond hockey.

Their team, the Chicago Clowns, has made sure to make it to Eagle River, Wis., the past eight years to compete in the Labatt Blue/USA Hockey Pond Hockey Championships.

Glover, who lives in Atlanta, has had to miss a tournament or two over the years.

“As long as it’s not anywhere near Valentine’s Day, I’ve been told, I should be OK,” Glover joked. “One year, I think it landed on Valentine’s weekend, but I think I got home in time late Sunday and we were good.”

Glover has a hectic schedule since he’s a professional actor and director. Last year, he appeared in Season 4 of AMC’s “The Walking Dead.” He has also had roles in “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Sabotage,” to name few.

Early February is a great time for Glover to get away and get on the pond, since it’s between seasons for a lot of television shows.

“I just love it, just being with friends,” Glover said. “It’s great hanging out with all the guys I grew up with. It’s fun playing hockey in Atlanta and being on the teams I am on there, but I grew up with these guys.”

Glover, who was chosen as a celebrity guest at the Chicago Blackhawks game on Feb. 9 for the “Shoot the Puck” segment, is a huge hockey fan. He grew up playing for the Schaumburg Kings, Northwest Chargers and the Schaumburg High School team.

Clowns team member Pat O’Meara recalled Glover being one of Schaumburg’s standouts.

“When I was on the high school team, I was definitely one of the weaker players, and you knew that if you went into the corner and things didn’t go so well, Jeff had you covered,” O’Meara said. “He was just such a wonderful big brother kind of guy.”

Added Clowns team member Craig Hildebrandt, “He’s a guy you want on your team. He’s got a shot, he’s got the size and he’s intimidating.”

Glover was a good player in high school and got some looks from colleges. Bemidji State University in Minnesota sent Glover a letter showing interest in his skills.

“I was thinking about going up there,” Glover said, “but I was just thinking, ‘It’s freezing cold in Minnesota.’”

Instead, Glover visited Arizona State University and fell in love with the school. He played some ice and roller hockey while in Tempe.

Other than his annual trip to the Pond Hockey Championships, Glover stays active in hockey by playing in two adult hockey leagues in Alpharetta and Kennesaw, Ga., and hitting “Stick Time” sessions a couple times a week.

All About Fun

The Clowns usually field multiple teams at the Pond Hockey Championships. However, this year, it just had one team, the Old Clowns.

There are about 15-20 guys in the Chicago who have played for the Clowns, but a core group of six to seven members try not to a miss a season.

“It’s a good group of guys,” Hildebrandt said. “We all look out for each other, we all take care of each other. … It ranges from blue-collar guys to judges and attorneys.”

The Old Clowns competed in the 40+ Tier II Division this year in Eagle River and finished 0-3, bowing out on the second day. Since Glover has played on the team, he believes the Clowns have only advanced to the playoffs once, and that turned out to be one-and-done.

“We always put ourselves in the wrong division, I think,” Glover said. “We’re all 40-and-over guys, and I think we have played 21-and-over intermediate and 21-and-over bronze, stuff like that. We get smoked by these guys.”

It’s not so much about winning at pond hockey as it is about having a good time with old friends.

“It’s hanging out with the guys, having fun,” Glover said. “Just talking to everybody that you’ve grown up with and seeing how they’re families have been doing and what’s been going on is probably No. 1. Drinking beers is probably No. 2; No. 3 is hockey. …

“It’s just a great excuse to get everybody together and hang out.”

Story from Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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