Hockey players clad in jockstraps swarmed a north Spokane ice cream parlor this week, celebrating an annual team tradition that some people would like to see put on ice.
On Tuesday evening, at least six new members of the Spokane Braves walked into the Dairy Queen on West Francis toting hockey sticks.
The rookies wore T-shirts and helmets, but relied on the jockstraps to cover the rest. A dozen veteran Braves players, all fully clothed, accompanied them.
“We don’t allow hazing at all,” insisted Tom Henricksen, the team’s president. “But this is just one of those traditions that fell through the cracks.”
That doesn’t sit well with Steve Pottratz, who built the Dairy Queen nine years ago. He’s tired of being mooned by the teenagers every year, and said customers are complaining.
One man in the shop Tuesday evening had two young children with him when the Braves blew in. He called police and threatened to report Pottratz’s parlor to the Health District and Better Business Bureau.
“It’s indecent exposure and it isn’t funny anymore,” Pottratz said. “They don’t care about the effect their need to flash themselves has on my customers. It’s a family place. This has to stop.”
Theresa Castillo, a Dairy Queen supervisor who was working Tuesday, said the players were loud and cursed at employees who asked them to leave. Several of the scantily clad teenagers sang songs over the microphone at the counter.
Castillo said she was in the back of the shop when the Braves came in, and didn’t have time to stop her employees from serving them.
By the time she came to the front counter, their Peanut Buster Parfaits already were paid for, she said.
“I saw them and was like, ‘Oh, no,”’ Castillo said. “I tried not to look at them.”
Pottratz said he’s asked Braves coaches several times to put an end to the annual tush trot. Every year, though, the buns are back.
“The police won’t arrest them and the coaches think it’s funny, it’s just so cute,” Pottratz said. “I don’t know what else to do.”
Police said Friday the players could be arrested for disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor. Instead, detectives warned officials of the junior hockey team to cool it.
The players range in age from 15 to 19. Unlike the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League, Braves players aren’t paid.
Henricksen promised the players’ posteriors will be properly protected from now on.
“This is not something we’re proud of,” Henricksen said Friday, adding that new team members also are forced by veteran players to run naked through the Eagles Ice Arena on North Addison, where the Braves play.
“None of this will happen again though, I can tell you that. It’s offensive.”