The Spaha Spartans

The Spaha Spartans

Spanish Harlem, Manhattan

Like many groups in New York City, the Spartans are a team largely comprised of immigrants. Their fifteen-man bench is a fairly typical representation of the melting-pot neighborhood they hail from, composed primarily of Dominicans, Puerto Ricans, and white twenty-somethings who attended Hamilton College and moved to New York to work at the Clinton Foundation. 

The team is a relative newcomer to the New York City ice hockey scene. It originated during the brutal winter of 2014-2015, when a local Hispanic gang known as the Huevos Rancheros hassled a trio of Hamilton grads as they carried groceries to their Honda Insight Zipcar parked atop the garage next to the Costco on 117th Street. The groups briefly tussled, but were unable to find secure footing on the icy roof. In the scuffle, James McKinsey dropped his Samsung Galaxy 3; Julio Francesco attempted to slap it over to his crew with a piece of rebar, but McKinsey blocked his shot with a selfie stick—and both groups simultaneously realized their joint potential. 

When asked, the Spartans claim they chose their name because of their love for the movie 300 and the fact that “SpaHa” and “Spartan” start with the same syllable. However, the name actually derives from the night after the group’s first official practice, when the entire team had relations with one another in order to prove they were so hetero, they could be with other men and not be gay.

On the ice, the SpaHa Spartans are noted for their tenacity, their bright crimson jerseys, and their tradition of screaming “THIS…IS…SPARTAAAAAAAAA!!!” for an awkwardly long duration after every home win. The most notable incident occurred in February 2015, when the group held the scream for nearly three hours after a victory over the Hell’s Kitchen Aides—despite the janitor extinguishing the rink’s lights after 60 minutes.