The vaunted Kitchen Kup is back for another summer of fun at Eden Street Park this weekend, and founder Joe Brennan said there will be some great teams competing in a relaxed atmosphere only found in the Town.
So far, Brennan said about 16 teams have formed squads and will compete in the double-elimination, high-intensity roller hockey tournament that spans over Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 4 and 5.
At stake will be bringing the Kup back to Charlestown this year. Two years ago, the Charlestown team prevailed and kept the Kup at home, but last year the South Boston team took the title and brought the Kup over the North Washington Street Bridge into their neighborhood.
Once again, many of the top-flight players will be back to play on squads – including some pros, college players, draftees and neighborhood legends.
“Brendan Collier is coming back,” said Brennan. “He said he has a bomb squad. He’s all in. The old school Townies are back this year – Fidler and all those guys. They said they’re in. We have about 16 teams now and I think that’s the perfect amount for even brackets. Also, if there is weather that jeopardizes the timing, 16 is a good number because you can still fit it into a weekend.”
Roller hockey has a certain appeal, Brennan said, because it is the perfect complement to ice hockey and a great pastime for the serious players in the summer. At the same time, it draws in people from all over who may not even really follow hockey.
“If you think about it, people who don’t know about the sport of hockey or haven’t had any interaction with hockey, in order for them to see an ice hockey game played, they have to go to a professional arena in the middle of winter – and ice arena at that,” he said. “Some who have never thought about hockey, they aren’t likely to do that. For this, right in the middle of a park on Main Street in a major city, you have the same players coming out to play in the open air and laugh and play relaxed with their friends. They have the liberty of playing a little looser. They aren’t performing for scouts or a scholarship, and so there is a much looser atmosphere and in a public park. It’s New England’s best players and the energy is crazy. You can’t not stop and notice it if you’re walking by. There is an energy that draws everyone in, and the players love it because they have more liberty to play and have fun.”
On an organizational note, Brennan said he has enlisted some young helpers this year to begin carrying the torch for the Town’s tournament. Brennan said he is hoping to have the young people who have become active in the Kup take more of a leading role this year, while he oversees things in the bigger picture.
He said he and his friends started the Kup 15 years ago when they were young and looking to have something fun to do in the summer that was relatable to ice hockey. Roller hockey was the thing, and it grew from there. Now, there is a whole new crop of Charlestown young people in their late teens and early 20s who have that same energy.
“These kids stepping up I trust to take that responsibility because they’re family oriented,” he said. “They’re great players and good in school and they are the ones who will have that energy the next 10 years like I did when I was 19…It’s definitely time to give these kids the right to take the next step. They earned it, but I’m not going anywhere. I’ll always be here and involved.”
This year’s key sponsors include Siebold Fencing, Combined Benefits United, John McHugh Electric, DC 35 Painters and Allied Trades, Teamsters Local 25, The Nolan Group, Elmont Capital Consulting, Councilor Lydia Edwards, ABMM Financial and the IAAF Firefighters Union – among others.
Teams will be drawn for the brackets at 6 p.m. at Eden Street Park. The tournament kicks off at 8 a.m. on Saturday. It’s goes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. both days.