One of the biggest and best personalities in our game, Phil Maroon is one of a kind. Phil is passionate, hard working and toes the line of “is that guy crazy” just well enough to keep opponents a few extra tiles away from him in the corners. As Phil will explain, he wasn’t always the most talented guy on the floor, but his heart and love for the game allowed him to always make some kind of an impact for his teams. Fortunately/Unfortunately for Phil, one of his brother’s talents has overshadowed his own play over the years, current Oiler Pat Maroon(Sorry Justin, you are still the coolest Maroon brother). I only mention this because I have personally seen people walk up to Phil and say “Hey, how is Pat?” As cool as it must be to have a brother in the NHL, and as proud as Phil is of Pat, it has to be annoying people don’t even take a moment to ask how you are before getting to asking about big 19. With that being said, Phil has carved out his own legacy in our sport. If you know Philly Phil STL, you know he could write 100 stories about different games, nights out, or trips with his boys. The following is Phil doing his best to summarize in general his hockey story and how it has shaped him into the man he is today. Enjoy.
Well its 2017 the world has officially been taken over by cell phones and social media. Who doesn’t like to read a good story on those fancy phones while you’re sitting on the toilet? I know I do. With my story you will learn how I survived so long on a National level in a sport I wasn’t even that good at. You will learn how this sport has turned me into the man I am today. You will learn some crazy stories, the highs of my life and the lows, all while sharing them with friends I’ve met along the way from around the world.
I don’t even know where to begin; yes this story is about me Phil Maroon, Pat’s brother Phil. Some may ask why you want to know my story, I’m sure you want to know Pat’s story. After all people walk right up to me and ask me how Pat’s doing, yeah I’m doing great thanks for asking. Did you guys even know I had another brother Justin? Who cares you will learn about all 3 of us by the end of this.
It all started back in 1989 when I was riding the bus home from kindergarten and my neighborhood friend Ryan Harris ( I will never forget this name) was talking about ice hockey. I came running home to my mom and dad full of excitement asking them to play Ice Hockey. My dad being the soccer guy said no way you’re not playing, so I went running to my mom. When it comes to my mom I was the favorite, I asked her to play and of course she said yes. However, the season already started and she had to call the club and get me in as a late addition, it worked I’m playing Ice Hockey! I will never forget going to the clubs storage bin to pick out my equipment. I was like a kid on Christmas morning.
I was never that good at Ice hockey, in fact I never even made an AA team until I was 16 years old. I just loved the sport whether I was on B or A I just feel in love being around the rink. Fast forward to 1993, my dad was a home builder and owned Maroon Realty and Building. My mom being from New Jersey with her family still living there came up with the Idea for her brother Rob to move to St. Louis and work for my dad. Rob was the cool uncle, fresh out of college sporting the sweetest pair of coke bottle glasses possible while driving a Mazda R7 with T tops.
Rob was living in our basement when he first moved to St. Louis he would go to all of our sporting events, whether it was baseball, soccer, basketball, hockey, Rob was there. One night I had an indoor soccer game at All American Sports Mall. Little did I know All American was about to be my 2nd home. One side had a soccer field and the other had an inline hockey rink. On the way home Rob told me I should start a roller hockey team and he could coach us. I was all in, this is where I was starting my future not just in hockey, but life.
Here I am a 9 year old trying to build a house league hockey team. How am I going to do this? Who am I going to ask? I started at the top, I wanted to ask all the kids playing AA so my team would be good, this was going to be my sport. I built a team by selling my friends, then their parents. 10 players and a goalie later we were practicing on the parking lot at Queen of All Saints School. Rob had the drawing board, I was the GM, we loved it, a bond was about to start and a future was just beginning for the both of us.
Over the course of the next year I started making friends around the rink, I was there all day and night playing 4-5 games every Saturday. I never forget playing this 6 year old kid that was all of 3 feet, he had a metal 3 wheel chassis that was home made, his dad owned the rink, he hands like a young Gretzky and wheels like a young Mike Gartner. Meet one of my best friends to this day Shawn Garwys. He was the best hockey player I’ve ever witnessed outside the NHL. Yes he was 6 years old and that good.
After I met Shawn, we instantly became friends. I was officially in for a ride I never saw coming. I started figuring this sport out; I was becoming one of the better players around the rink. I had the opportunity to play in the first ever NARCH Finals in 1994. With a 2 team 12U division I was picked to play on the All American Stars. We played a best of 3 series and lost to the Spinning Wheels Tornadoes. NARCH never counted our division as part of the tournament. However, it was the beginning of the NARCH jinx which is my biggest regret to this day, I never got my NARCH Gold medal as a player.
I was unaware of all the talent in this sport from around the country until the 1995 NARCH Finals came back to St.Louis. We loaded our roster with all the top guys from around the rink under a new team name and the beginning of the longest standing Roller Hockey Organization to this day. This was the birth of the Franklin Blast youth teams with Uncle Rob behind the bench, this was the beginning of something special. It wouldn’t start out the way we would have liked. We got mercied one game after the next. Who are these guys? Teams like the Armadillos(DFL-TS) and 99ers, they were built like the Soviets. Bigger, faster, stronger, they ran our show.
1996 was quite the year for me, our team went on to win the AIRHS and USAC National Championships. I met one of my best friends that year. Who would have known one of my best friends in life I met at a Roller Hockey Tournament and he was from Long Island, NY. Greg Thompson. He was the same great guy then as he is now. We beat his team, the Face Off Flyers, in the Championship I believe. During the medal ceremony I sat with his team on the boards and created a friendship that will last a lifetime. Other guys on that team I became close with were Paul Flynn and Jeff Whitley. We exchanged pager numbers after the tournament and the rest is history.
That was the start of Phil Maroon the salesman; I sold all of these guys on my personality. I never once sold anyone on my skill, well I really didn’t have any to sell, the guys just liked to be around me. Every tournament I went to I was making friends, I would fly to tournaments out of town to play with other teams. I was living the dream. I will never forget AIRHS 2nd year they had a regional out in San Fran, my two little brothers team was going out to play this powerhouse team from Arizona, I wanted to go so bad, I wanted to bring a team. It was 2 weeks before the tournament, Greg Gawrys looked at me and said if you can get a team together and they pay for plane tickets I will cover the rest. He didn’t know who he was talking to, 4 hours later I called him with 5 players and a goalie all of our plane tickets were booked. Greg just started laughing and said something along the lines of “I’m never doubting you again.” I called each one of their parents and sold them on this somehow. There were only 3 teams in our division, looking back what a waste of money, but what a memory, and those salesman skills I developed, now pay my bills.
As the years went on my love for the game of inline grew tremendously, whether it was the trips out of town, hanging with the boys, making friendships, or just competing, the love was never ending. I was never the best player or maybe even a player that deserved to make the team based on talent. If I played on teams that weren’t that great I could take the role as the go to guy, I have unexpectedly taken home a few MVP awards in my time. When I played on the top teams I would always take a step back, was it because I was nervous of making mistakes, probably, but my game always changed when I played with the better teams. The love for the game transformed me into a student of the game, I was learning the game like the back of my hand.
That’s when I knew I could last, I knew teams needed certain guys, teams needed role players. I decided to change from forward to defense, the best move I ever made. Every team in roller always has enough forwards, they typically have enough offensive defenseman as well. What most teams lack is a Jamie Yoder or a Chad Seibal. Guys that will go out and play hard every shift, play lock down D, play physical against the better players to frustrate them, kill penalties, block shots and just be a pest out there. I figured it out with my heart and determination. I told myself I could be that guy. I may lack in the skill department, but I will make it up with my heart. I wear it on my sleeve as most would say, I would do whatever it took to win.
Whatever it takes to win: One story that always pops to my head is a TORHS regional held at Matteson in STL. I was playing for a young HomeCare America team, the team was full of 17 and 18 year olds. Then there was me, the player/coach 22 year old who just wanted to win. We were playing a stacked team from Stl in the championship which had already routed us in the round robin. This was when TORHS was full contact and this team had some bad dudes on their team, one of them being JP Beilsten. He scared the shit out of most of our young guys. I decided enough was enough I want to win. I was going to fire the boys up. As everyone is around the bench waiting for me to name the starting line up, I looked over to see who they were starting. JP came skating out. I said alright I’m starting, whoever else wants to start lets go, this won’t be long. They all just looked at me like wtf is this guy doing, keep in mind I never started a game. I lined up next to JP, looked at him and said “you want to show everyone how tough you are?’ the building was packed for this game, he laughed at me and told me he would kill me. Puck drops… I slash the shit out of him, he turns around slashes me back, so I slashed him harder and just dropped my shit. I knew JP wasn’t going to back down from me. Sure enough he drops his stuff and we square off. I just hung on for dear life taking blow after blow. I wasn’t going down, I got a couple jabs in. Nothing crazy, but I didn’t back down. The boys loved it. We rallied and came back to beat them pretty good. I will never forget walking around the rink that day, everyone thought I was a psycho because no one has seen anyone with a set of balls drop the gloves with JP. JP is another guy who’s still one of my great friends and a mentor of mine for coaching.
I made it for so long in the roller world because I had the love for the game, I had a heart to back it up, and a mindset that I would do whatever it took for me to play at a high level on the best teams. I saw an opportunity to be humble, to be hungry, and to always being the hardest worker in the room. I saw an opportunity to make friends for a lifetime, whether they were on my team or on the rival team, when the skates were off I was friends with everyone. I saw an opportunity to do what I love for as long as I wanted to.
Unfortunately due to my reckless play I’ve had concussion after concussion, it has really slowed me down over the years. I took on coaching a local High School team with Tom Bruce which we were State Champions this year. This was a team we coached for 4 years, State Finalists 3 times, this team was special to me, each player bought into our love for the game and our intensity, this team played like Tom and I, we trained them for 4 years to be winners and to do whatever it takes and to finally win something that meant so much to my players and parents was awesome.
I’ve played hockey only a handful of times over the past 3 years which one of them is my best moment as a player. Winning Pro at State Wars 3 times, Pro TORHS Championship, numerous AIRHS, USAC, And TORHS National Championships, all of that was awesome something I will never forget. However one championship sticks out over all of them Winning State Wars Men’s AA in Stl 2 years ago. I won it with my two brothers on my team, my parents, wife, and daughter Layla in the stands. This one will always be #1 after everything my brothers and I have put ourselves through playing hockey, as much as we laid on the line, countless championships and tournaments between us 3, but we never had a chance to win together. AA,A, or Pro it was a feeling that’s indescribable. Unless you know what each of us have put into the game.
Tyler actually asked me to do the first Edition of this a few weeks ago, but I was going through some health issues. I had a cyst on my pancreas which I had a biopsy on, when they did a CATscan on my organs they found a tumor lodged in my hip bone. This was the scariest couple weeks of my life. All biopsies came back negative, even though I still have to figure out what were going to do with my hip, all is good. It made me realize that there is so much more to life than hockey, that’s all I’ve really known, I have a wife at home, I have two beautiful daughters at home. I have a family that depends on me. I have a job that I absolutely love. (If you need to purchase or Refinance, call me.) That’s when I decided this would be the last year I’m coaching hockey and more than likely playing. I may pop into a tournament here and there, but with my concussions there’s no reason to risk what I have ahead in life. I’ve accomplished so much in this sport; it’s made me the man I am today. I’m going to accomplish that much more killing the dad game.
These days may be the end of something that holds such a special place in my life, to many of you I’m not going that far away. I still stay in contact with all the boys, even ones that haven’t played the sport in 10+ years. I have dedicated 20 plus years of my life to this sport, it will never really leave me. If I’m playing fantasy hockey with Tim McManus, Greg Thompson, Sean Riley, Daryn Goodwin, Pasta Pete Pennecke. If it’s meeting up with the old boys to watch one of Pat’s game out of town. Talking shit to my boy Joe Cook, talking about Pat and the Oilers with Tyler almost every game (we’re diehards) or if it’s the greatest group chat in roller hockey history (Big Harns Only) with my brothers and I along with Kyle Kraemer, Chad Larkowski, Stephan Campbell, Shawn Gawrys, Kyle O’Kane, Joey Doran, Dylan Larkin, Bobby Ryan,George Collins, Andy Marks, Tommy Bruce, Tony Dulle, Sean Sullivan and the great Pat Lee. This is the never ending group chat that has been going on forever. This is a group of guys who have all gone our own way in life, Some of us are selling Mortgages, some in the NHL, medical sales, school teacher, real estate, Clothing/Apparel designing, professional valet parker, baseball coach, insurance agent, or even own half of St.Louis. One thing we all have in common, we’ve all crossed paths along the way playing the sport of inline hockey, while creating a friendship that everyone else would be jealous of.
This story could go on and on let’s just call this part 1 for now. Before I’m out of here, I want to Thank some of the people who have made all of this worth while. Guys who have been there for me, people I just enjoyed being around, the people who continuously drove me back to the rink. You guys are the real MVP’s!
-My Parents Phil and Patti
-My brothers and sister Jen
-Uncle Rob Ferrara
-Walt Frazier, Eddie, Chad Seibal, and the rest of Tour hockey
– Sean Riley and Mission/Bauer
-Rob Chhhh ya you spell it and the rest of the Labeda Family
– Tim Mcmanus
-Tyler Nebeel and the rest of Revision
-Koleski, Evil and John Gelement’
-Aaron and Jay
-The Redstreake Family
-FZW Roller Hockey
-Vic, Rocco, and all the other Refs out there
– All of my Blast, Snipers, and Homecare teammates I love each and everyone of you!
-Most Importantly my beautiful Wife, Jackie and my princesses Layla and Sloan!
Wow that list was long, I could’ve kept going, if I forgot you, I’m sorry. You all know what you mean to me. #onelove