The Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League (GCHSCHL) is a USA Hockey sanctioned league participating in the Mid American (MIDAM) District. It's players are High School aged students from Central Ohio. It's member teams are broken up into districts to allow players who do not attend a high school with an Ohio High School Athletic Association (OHSAA) sanctioned varsity program to play at a competitive high school level.
The GCHSCHL began play in 1998-1999. The league was formed after the success of a high school club hockey tournament sponsored by the Worthington High School Hockey Club in the spring of 1998. This tournament included high school club teams from Worthington, Dublin, Hilliard, Olentangy, Pickerington/Reynoldsburg, St. Charles, Westerville and the Newark Youth Hockey Association.
The inaugural GCHSCHL members that fall included club teams from Dublin, Hilliard/Southwest, Olentangy, Pickerington/Reynoldsburg, St. Charles, Westerville, and a newly formed Gahanna club. The Worthington club had dissolved and it's players had gone varsity at that point rolling out varsity teams for Thomas Worthington High School and Worthington Kilbourne High School, joining Upper Arlington High School (established 1972) as the only three varsity teams in the greater Columbus area.
Through it's first 10 seasons, the GCHSCHL saw its number of member teams fluctuate through the expansion of the game in central Ohio and a decrease in member teams as some clubs migrated to OHSAA sanctioned varsity programs. St. Charles Preparatory High School was the first of the seven charter GCHSCHL teams to go OHSAA varsity in the Fall of 1999. Despite loosing one of it's inaugural teams, the GCHSCHL continued to grow through the start of the decade. Over the first 4 seasons the league expanded, granting membership to the Newark Generals in 1999, the Athens Bobcats in 2000, and the Northeast Storm in 2001.
The league dropped to 7 teams (Athens, Hilliard/SW, Olentangy, Newark, Northeast, PRPC and Westerville) for the 2002-2003 season and remained that way until 2008-2009. In 2002, Dublin Coffman, Dublin Scioto and Gahanna Lincoln High Schools decided to field OSHAA varsity teams and depart the GCHSCHL. These three schools joined St. Charles Preparatory, Thomas Worthington, Worthington Kilbourne, and Upper Arlington High Schools to form the North Division of the Southwest Ohio High School Hockey League (SWOHSHL). In 2003-2004, the Columbus area schools then seceded from the SWOHSHL to form their own seven team high school conference, the Capital Hockey Conference (CHC).
Over time, the 7 team CHC expanded to 12 member teams. In 2004-2005 Dublin opened a third high school and the Dublin Jerome High School Celtics were added to the CHC that year. After one year as a JV club team, the DeSales High School Stallions followed them and joined the OSHAA varsity ranks in the CHC in 2006-2007.
Over the next two seasons, the Olentangy School District followed in the steps of Dublin and opened two new high schools with OSHAA varsity hockey right out of the gates in the Olentangy Liberty High School Patriots in 2007-2008 and Olentangy Orange High School Pioneers in 2008-2009. As a result, the Olentangy Braves Hockey Club split from the GCHSCHL in 2008-2009 when the Olentangy High School Braves were granted OSHAA status. With the addition on the three Olentangy Schools and DeSales, the CHC increased to its current 12 member teams.
The GCHSCHL continues to thrive with it's current six member teams, the Athens Bobcats, Hilliard/Southwest Wildcats, Newark Generals, Northeast Storm, PRPC (Pickerington/Reynoldsburg/Pataskala/Canal Winchester) Ice Prowlers, and Westerville Warcats. All six clubs have also spun of JV teams which participate in the 14 team Capital Hockey Conference (CHC) JV Division.
In addition to the end of season GCHSCHL Blue Jackets Cup Tournament (started in 2002), beginning in 2004-2005, the top four GCHSCHL teams from the regular season began participating in the Buckeye Cup Ohio High School Club Hockey State Championship Tournament with teams from the Cleveland and Cincinnati areas. In the 2005-2006 season, the league also instituted an end of season GCHSCHL All-Star game to celebrate it's top players.
The GCHSCHL has been instrumental in the growth of hockey in Central Ohio since it's inception in 1998. As the sport grows in number of participants each year in the greater Columbus area, the GCHSCHL continues to provide players with a chance to participate at the competitive high school level. And as the exposure of high school hockey grows in Ohio, the GCHSCHL continues to turn out some of the best players in the greater Columbus area.