Angry Unicorns: couple finds "ice is nice"

  • Published
  • By Wayne Amann
  • Air Force ISR Agency Public Affairs
It's Friday night and a husband and wife are on a date -- of sorts.

While other couples are taking in a movie, enjoying a restaurant meal or socializing with friends, 1st Lt. Andrew Caulk and 1st Lt. Jennifer Caulk are chasing a three-inch by one-inch piece of vulcanized rubber with graphite sticks on a 200-foot by 85-foot slippery surface.

They're teammates on the Angry Unicorns, a hockey team in the Adult Recreational League that skates at the Ice and Golf Center at Northwoods rink in suburban San Antonio, Texas.

For Andrew, of the Air Force Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Agency and Jennifer, with the 453 Electronic Warfare Squadron here, playing an unlikely sport like hockey serves a purpose in their lives.

"It's important to spend quality time together, especially when neither of us is deployed," Jennifer said. "Playing sports is a great way to multitask fitness, fun and relationship-building."

The Caulks enjoy more conventional activities together like racquetball, walleyball, volleyball, ultimate frisbee, yoga, running, biking and sailing. But, hockey offers them a rugged edge they don't shy away from.

"Jenn is a very tough woman," Andrew said. "I saw her get knocked down against a couple guys playing ultimate Frisbee and she jumped up and kept going."

Jennifer isn't overly concerned about Andrew's safety either.

"He's been playing without a cage or shield attached to his helmet, but we're in a no-checking league so there's much less risk of injury," she said. "We wear so many pads that in most situations when we have a significant impact we don't feel any pain."

The couple's hockey interest surfaced at different points in their lives.

"I grew up in (Orlando) Florida, so I had very little exposure to ice, besides what we kept in our freezer," Jennifer quipped. "I started playing hockey because it was the closest sport to broomball, which I fell in love with while attending the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, from 2008 to 2010."

Meanwhile, her husband has been a hockey fan since his childhood days.

"I always wanted to play hockey, however, it's an expensive sport and we couldn't afford it growing up," Andrew said. "So I played a lot of street hockey with my friends, then went ice skating as I got older. I am from (Cheboygan) Michigan after all."

The ARL sports three other teams, the Warriors, the Kodiaks and the Honey Badgers. Each team plays a 12-game schedule. Each game uses a one-hour running clock.

The league is one of three at Northwoods, all organized by the director of hockey operations and former National Hockey League player Dale Henry.

"I think it's great that married couples want to play a sport together they both enjoy," Henry said. "Hockey is growing as a recreational sport because it's great exercise, and the players like being part of a team."

ARL players range from those just starting to play the game, to those who've been playing a few years. The ARL is designed for players looking to get a good skate in a relaxed atmosphere with minimal competition.

"Not only are the games fun, but they're great for your body and your mind. They're stress relievers," Jennifer said. "Our team has a positive attitude and they're newcomer-friendly."

On this particular Friday night the Honey Badgers out-skated the Angry Unicorns 14-2, dropping the pink jersey-clad team's record to 0-2. For the Caulks, it's not about the score.

"I don't play particularly well, but I have a lot of fun doing it with the right people," Jennifer said.

Her line mate on the team and in life, Andrew, agrees.

"Anyone interested in playing hockey with their spouse should go for it," he said. "Make sure you're prepared for the soreness though!"