What do Texans and Czechs have in common when it comes to hockey?
A hockey team called the “Czexans” who have figured out a way to blend the two cultures together. Jean-Paul Beebe, team member of the Czexans, Vice-President of the Catholic Union of Texas also known as the KJT (Ennis), and a National Polka Festival Committee member who won the Polka Fest King and Queen Dance contest in 2005 with his wife Julie says, “Our team is the only one in our league that represents more of a heritage as opposed to other teams.”
When forming the Czexans hockey team in October of 2006, Beebe says the group wanted to base it [the team] in some way on the team members Czech backgrounds and also the State of Texas. “We incorporated this by coming up with the name "Czexans", along with the style of our uniform. We tried several different logos with different jersey patterns,” Beebe explains. “Finally, we settled on a design that is; the State of Texas, which is filled in with the Czech flag, and finalized with the word "Czexans" on it. The logo is an original design, and people often ask where they can get a jersey for themselves.”
Choosing red, white and blue because it represented the colors of Texas, the Czech Republic and the United States of America, The Czexans are a group of adult amateur ice hockey players with about 15 members in all. The majority of the group is of Czech decent and “six of us have been playing hockey together for many years,” Beebe describes, “We have been friends on and off the ice and have a lot in common. We're all KJT members and get together regularly. As a team, most of us try to get together every few weeks.”
Beebe mentions that while he has been playing hockey with several of his teammates for about 13 years, last season they ended up being spread out on different teams. “We wanted to create our own team, and began to look for additional players to fill it,” Beebe finishes.
The Czexans play at the Duncanville Star Center with about 30 games during the fall season, not including the playoffs. For the summer season they play around 20 games plus the playoffs. Currently they lead the team in penalty minutes and their record is 16 wins & 10 losses. “We haven't had the opportunity to play in any championships yet, since this is our first season together,” Beebe says. However, he reiterates that the Star Center does keep all stats online and for those interested it’s at http://www.drpepperstarcenter.com/Hockey.asp?strHockeyType=pointstreak&strRinkName=dv.
In all, the Czexans are made up of three Czech players; Jiri Dolezal, Milan Hamrla, Jiri Pytlicek and they have all lived in the United States for over 10 years. “They traveled around to different parts of the country before eventually settling in Texas. Jiri & Jiri both met their wives here, and Milan's wife is from the Czech Republic,” Beebe says proudly. “All of them plan for their children to speak both Czech and English fluently.”
In addition to those who have come from the Czech Republics, the Czexans also have six players of Czech decent; Dominic Zmolik, Jeff Zmolik, Jacob Zmolik, Jacob Smith, Eric Jessup and Jean Paul Beebe, all six of these players are from Ennis. However, there are two additional players on the team who do not come from Ellis County, instead making the journey to play on the team from both Carrollton and Mesquite.
As the team is just now getting off to a good start Beebe says he is having a lot of fun and in the locker room and during games both English and Czech are spoken on a regular basis.