(Courtesy of Deborah DeYoung)

When the lone roller skating rink in Chantilly – affectionately called “The Box” – closed its doors for good this spring, Fairfax County’s most avid roller hockey players suddenly found themselves without a home.

For Alex DeYoung, the end of The Box coincided with the beginning of a summer-long adventure that has made one of the state’s top roller hockey goalies a roaming commodity in net.

DeYoung, a 16-year-old rising junior at Robinson, recently returned from Bucaramanga, Colombia, where he helped the U.S. junior men’s inline hockey team claim bronze at the Federation Internationale de Roller Sports World Championships.

The youngest player on a team loaded with ice hockey prospects, DeYoung saw action during a pair of victories over Australia and Mexico during the team’s round-robin group competition. And with several thousand fans in attendance during the competition’s opening ceremony and final day of play, the magnitude of the event wasn’t lost on DeYoung.

“It was crazy. The crowds down there were huge,” DeYoung said. “I’d probably played before 200 people at most before. There were thousands of people at our games there.

“And the level of competition against some of the teams – it was unlike anything I’d played against before.”

DeYoung held his own in his limited action, then supported his teammates during a thrilling 7-6 double-overtime victory over France in the bronze medal game. And throughout the trip he took copious mental notes to provide fodder for the journal he kept on RockTheRed.net – the Washington Capitals’ fan community blog.

Last winter DeYoung led the Robinson/Stuart combined ice hockey team to a perfect 10-0 mark in the Northern Virginia Scholastic Hockey League’s junior varsity division. But roller hockey has always been DeYoung’s first love, as evidenced by his jam-packed summer itinerary.

Next week DeYoung will fly to San Jose for the North American Roller Hockey Championships where he’s slated to play for four teams in four different age groups including teams based in California, Las Vegas and Long Island. Then he’ll head to St. Louis to play for Team Virginia in the State Wars international tournament.

“I’m a rare case, because I’m a goalie,” DeYoung said. “I don’t really need to practice with these teams much. I just have to stay on the top of my form and learn the defense for each team I’m playing with.”

DeYoung will continue to hone his blogging skills during the trip. Last week he scouted goaltenders at the Capitals’ development camp, and he’ll continue to chronicle his experiences in Las Vegas.

Beyond this summer, DeYoung would like to continue to represent his country on the rink — at next year’s world championships in San Jose and, somewhere down the road, perhaps the Olympics.

“If trampoline can become an Olympic sport, I don't see why inline hockey can't,” DeYoung said. “It's an exciting game to watch, very fast-paced – faster than ice hockey. I could foresee it becoming an Olympic sport.”