This past year has been a great experience. Not knowing what to expect coming into the 2011-12 hockey season, I re-located to Milwaukee, where I have attended school and played hockey for the Milwaukee Jr. Admirals U18 AAA team in the Tier 1 Elite league. With teammates that are now family members, from Colorado, Chicago and Minnesota, we were a team with no identity.
As the season continued, we were playing top competitors in the country. Our team made a name for ourselves. Traveling the country was just a perk to playing on the Jr. Admirals; it allowed the team to become more familiar with each other. Traveling to Kansas City, St. Louis, Boston, Detroit, Chicago, Dallas, Buffalo, all through bus and plane, we developed a bond.
After upsetting some of the top 10 teams in the country, (www.MyHockeyRankings.com) we started to take off. While all of this excitement with hockey going on I still had to attend school. I had my work cut out for me this year, and sometimes it was very stressful and difficult. I had missed several days of school due to traveling for hockey, but without good grades you could not play. School has been fun, and a new experience for me, being able to meet new people, and share new stories. This experience has really changed my life, it is something not everyone gets to experience and for that I am so blessed.
The hardest thing about going to school, living under somebody else’s roof, and playing hockey, while you are many miles away from home, is being away from your family and close friends. You really realize how important they are, and the impact that they have made in your life. The only time I was home was for two days during the season, coming home from St. Louis, than heading out to Boston
Overall, I have appreciated and enjoyed the experience, it was something new, and something I will be able to look back on in my life and smile. To put the frosting on the cake to this year’s season, we had won state by defeating Team Wisconsin, who plays in the Upper Midwest High School Elite League. After State we were off to Central Districts back down to St. Louis for the third consecutive time. Beating Russell Stover, and the No. 11 team, the St. Louis Amateur Blues, to go to the 2012 National Championships in Buffalo, New York. Beating the Amherst Knights, and getting defeated by Philadelphia Jr. Flyers, and No. 1 team Shattuck St. Mary’s Prep.
This was truly a year to remember, the chance to meet new faces and share a camaraderie with 18 guys. This all would not be possible with out my parents, family, friends, teammates and coaches, who have pushed and supported me the whole way. I will be graduating in June, and training this summer for next season. Next season I have the chance to play Junior’s or come back to Milwaukee for another season with the Jr. Admirals.
Note: My deepest thoughts and prayers go out to the Koch family, Rest in Peace Joel Koch.