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Sticking to hockey pays off for Daniel Costa
Verbero Hockey founder CJ Gamble and Ripon Powerplay Sports Arena owner Daniel Costa pose for a picture inside of the inline hockey complex. Costa who started the business nearly five years ago recently bought the rights to the company and will be working with Gamble. - photo by JASON CAMPBELL

RIPON— Ask Daniel Costa about the first time he was exposed to the game of hockey.

Go on – ask him.

His face slowly gets overtaken by a wry smile and he begins to wax poetic about the dingy rink that he used to haunt as a kid in Modesto. It is the place that planted the seed for what would eventually become a lifelong obsession.

It isn’t there anymore. And as the owner of Ripon’s Powerplay Sports Arena, Costa’s office is literally an indoor hockey arena. But there’s something, he said, about the time that spent as a kid learning the ins-and-outs of the game that now pays his bells that will forever stick with him.

The Bulletin caught up with Costa in the Ripon complex to find out how things are going now that the business is nearing its five-year anniversary and whether he still gets that same feeling:

Why the game of hockey?

“I love it – I’ve loved it since I was eight-years-old. It just makes the most sense to me in general. It’s the most fun that you can have, and today I get to succeed by providing something that keeps kids away from gangs and drugs and violence – all things that I never really had to worry about as a kid. It’s a passion.”

What is it like getting to see kids coming in after school and play hockey instead of being out there on the street?

“There’s nothing else like it in the world, man. It’s truly the reason that I get up in the morning. My goal is to make sure that there is enough of this place to go around for everybody else – to make sure that everybody that comes down here can have a great time. It’s just a very, very rewarding experience.”

Are there challenging aspects to being your own boss?

“I don’t like disappointing people when I have to change something – when I have to make a switch because it’ll be better for the masses and it makes people upset. But the reality is that it’s a business and it needs to be treated like a business. I try to please as many as people as I possibly can but sometimes you can’t please everybody.”

Do you remember your first experience with the game of hockey?

“I was eight-years-old down at Cal Hockey in Modesto, and it was just this rundown old building with a rink right smack in the middle of it. It was some of the best fun I had growing up – as a sport it was brand new and it was something that I got to go do with my friends. The people down there were so nice. I just try to keep that spirit in what we offer here.”

Not long after opening you added a professional arena hockey team to the roster. How is that going?

“We’ve actually got three teams under that umbrella now – the Savage, which is our pro team the Red Tails, which is our AAA team and the Ravens, our AA team. It’s nice not having to go as far to see good hockey, but I’m also coaching the Ravens and it’s a lot of watching and understanding how the game is unfolding before you. It’s a different game from behind the bench – that’s for sure.”

How is inline hockey different than other sports that kids might get involved with?

“When you’re talking about football you might have 30 kids on a team but only 20 kids play – the other 10 are just there on the sidelines rooting everybody on. You might have 15 kids on a baseball team but only nine are really going to get the playing time. But your starting line in hockey, if you’re lucky, is going to be out there for – 45 seconds. And that’s if they’re good. Everybody is going to get playing time and as a result they’re going to get better. By the end of the season you can look down your lines and see that there are guys from line two that you can put in when the game is on the line. I always knew when I was playing that I wasn’t ever getting left behind – I was getting better with the guys I was playing with.”

Favorite hockey movie?

“Come on. The Mighty Ducks.”

You mentioned the possibility of adding another rink that would add a whole new dimension to what you would be able to offer. Are you where you wanted to be now that you’re nearing the five-year mark?

“I’d like to be able to say that we have 50 teams in all of our leagues combined, and that’s something that we’re still striving for. Maybe that’s something that we’ll be able to do in the future with the new rink.”

Is it an expensive sport to get started in?

“It can be. We like to say that for around $250 we can outfit you with what you need – skates, sticks, pads. It’s not the top-of-the-line stuff that my pro guys are wearing out there, but it’ll get you out onto the floor. But you’ll want to upgrade at some point.”

You recently merged with a sporting goods line – Verbero. Where do you see that going?

“In addition to the big names that we carry here – Mission and Bauer – we’re going to start offering our own gear at factory-direct prices. We’re going to be a testing facility for the stuff that we’re coming out with, and it’s going to be something exciting that’s on the horizon as we move forward.”

What is it like being a business owner in Ripon?

“I love Ripon. I love it. Originally I wanted to open in Modesto because that’s where I’m from and I wanted to bring hockey back there, but they basically told me no. They told me that even if I cleared the planning department, the city council would turn it down. So we started looking around and we came to Ripon and they’ve been behind us every step of the way since. They actually care about what it is that you do and what you’re bringing the community. Having that backing made all the difference in the world.”

Ripon’s Powerplay Sports Arena is located at 1043 S. Acacia Street, and is open Monday through Friday from noon to 10 p.m. and on weekends for tournaments and special events. For more information call (209) 599-2479 or visit