Nine months after he was shot during a congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, House Majority Whip Steve Scalise will drop the puck at the 10th annual Congressional Hockey Championship on March 15. Scalise spent weeks recovering from a single gunshot wound that ripped through his body, returning to the House last September.
“Being able to participate in a congressional sporting event takes on new meaning for me now, and I’m honored to be able to drop the puck for this year’s Congressional Hockey Challenge,” says the Louisiana Republican. “This game is a great opportunity for both sides of the aisle to put aside their differences and join the same team, but most importantly, it raises money for several worthy charities.”
The game pits lobbyists against lawmakers for a friendly spat at Kettlers Capitals Iceplex in Arlington, where the Washington Capitals practice. Ticket sales actually support a good cause: the Congressional Hockey Challenge acts as a pass-through for numerous DC-area groups, including the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, named for a man who, in addition to his other achievements, was a passionate hockey fan. The fund provides full academic scholarship for students at historically black colleges and universities or predominantly black institutions who participate in the NHL’s Hockey Is for Everyone initiative. The game also supports the Fort Dupont Ice Hockey Club in Southeast, which aims to get inner-city kids involved in organized sports, and the USA Warriors Ice Hockey Program, which brings wounded service members together in conjunction with the USA Disabled Hockey Program.
What started in 2008 “on a whim” has become a robust fundraiser for these organizations, says co-founder and lobbyist Nick Lewis. “We are thrilled to continue this great event for our tenth year, raising nearly a million dollars for hockey-related charities… Further, Team Lobbyist will take great pride in our imminent victory over the Lawmakers.” (He’s only half-joking—the lobbyists will seek redemption after losing to the lawmakers last year.)
Matt Mika, a lobbyist who was shot several times in the chest during last summer’s congressional baseball practice, is expected to play forward. Larry Bucshon, an Indiana Republican who was on the Amtrak train that crashed into a garbage truck in January and gave first aid to the crash victims, is the lawmakers’ coach. Representatives Mike Quigley and Brian Higgins, Democrats from Illinois and New York, respectively, are both expected to suit up and play forward. And the lineup’s not all male—Michelle McGann, executive director for the Republican Legislative Campaign Committee, is on the lawmakers’ roster.
In 2012, then Secretary of State John Kerry joined the lawmakers, and before he resigned in 2011, Anthony Weiner was in net for three years (Lewis says he “was actually a pretty legit goalie”). Caps alums Alan May and Peter Bondra have also played.