UNITED STATES PREMIER HOCKEY LEAGUE
San Jose native Wolford follows zigzag road to Brooklyn By Joshua Boyd/USPHL.com
gan Wolford is only 20 years old, but it seems like he’s already seen and experienced more than some octogenarians out there. How many people can say they rode their bikes from their California house to an NHL arena, before relocating to Saskatchewan and coaching First Nation Canadian children, and then a year later, experience the ringing bells of Wall Street and hustle and bustle of Brooklyn life? Before he almost certainly moves on to the NCAA Division III hockey realm next year, Wolford hopes to add a junior hockey championship in the USPHL Premier Division with the New York Aviators to his impressive resume of life experiences. “Honestly, I don’t think any team can beat us – we can only beat ourselves,” said Wolford, a defenseman for the Aviators, who were in fourth place overall in the 51-team league in early February. “Nobody can beat us when we move our feet. We’re one of the fastest teams in the league. We’re also the hardest-working team. We’ve bonded, we play like brothers, we go to war together every night.” Wolford was born in 1998 in San Jose. Now, when he says he’s from San Jose, he doesn’t mean he’s from Campbell or Alum Rock or Milpitas. He means San Jose. “It was probably one of the best places to grow up. I lived a mile from the rink (today’s Solar4America Ice at
San Jose), and our family would ride our bikes to Sharks he helped me out on the ice with my footwork. Travis games,” said Wolford. “It’s such a nice area, a very pe- McEwen did a lot of video work with me that was also destrian-friendly city. My friends and I would go around a huge help.” His next step, however, came via a trade. He was sent the city, riding our bikes or skateboarding.” Another California pastime, rollerblading, also ap- to the La Ronge Ice Wolves, also in the SJHL. Find Saspealed to Wolford and he actually started his hockey ca- katoon on a map and look about 250 miles north of there, in the lake-dotted northern woodlands reer on wheels. of the province. “My dad tried to teach all the neigh“It was such a different culture,” said borhood kids hockey and he signed me Wolford. “I worked with a lot of First Naup for roller hockey, which I played untions people there, and I even coached til I was 12,” said Wolford. “I definitely the Pee Wee team in the town there. think it helped me. Roller hockey is very It was a cool experience. I don’t know fast-paced, with lot of skill. It helped me how many kids from California can say in terms of being able to read the play and use my hands. It’s flowing.” they lived that far north in Canada.” For his final junior season, however, After one year with Albany Acadehe was looking for more exposure, so my, Wolford was looking to get his juhe made the trip thousands of miles to nior career underway. the south and east. His journey took him His brother Coalson, an ‘01, was from small-town Canada to the United recruited by the Notre Dame Academy States’ biggest city, New York. Hounds in Wilcox, Sask., to play for “I was cut during preseason from an their Midget program. Egan made the Egan Wolford trip with his brother to the open plains of Saskatchewan NCDC team, and I got a call from the Aviators coach and figured he’d try out for the Hounds’ junior team in the Mike Stanaway, and he laid out the details about the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) and see Aviators,” said Wolford. “They’re about a lot more than hockey. The GM Jon Dreher works on Wall Street, and what happened. “I enrolled in school at Notre Dame, tried out for the he brought me and a couple guys with him to work and junior team and made it,” said Wolford. “Clint Mylymok we got to see Wall Street and the traders on the floor. - who’s originally from Long Beach - was my coach and There are not a lot of programs that could offer that.”
Tahoe Prep players improving athletically, academically Continued from Page 15 As for the rest of the Tahoe experience, as a Southern California native, Meaney said he just can’t quite get over having evergreen trees on a beach. Liam Sutton Moving from his hometown of Santa Fe, New Mexico to Tahoe could have been a shock to the system for Sutton, but the 16-year-old sophomore has adjusted nicely to his new surroundings. For the right winger on Tahoe’s varsity squad, the ability to succeed academically while advancing his hockey skills made Tahoe Prep the right fit. He said his experience this year is a big change from his freshman year at home, and it shows in his current 3.8-grade point average and on the ice. “School never met with hockey,” he explained of his previous experience trying to mesh athletics and academics. “Being able to go out and make these trips for games and still stay caught up at school is a privileged-but-earned experience. You have to be disciplined and stay on top of your classes, but the support is also here. Our academic supervisor does a really good job. I like to picture her as the reality check.” Sutton said his hockey goal this year is to make the prep team, and all the time he is spending on the ice is paying off. He said he noticed the changes in his game when he practiced with his old team during Christmas 24
California Rubber Hockey Magazine
break. “The level of play is extremely different from what I was used to - picture NASCAR compared to Formula One racing,” he joked. “I appreciate the experiences I’m getting from hockey and the travel, getting to see so much of the country.” Sutton said he is especially appreciative of his parents for making Tahoe Prep possible for him.
on-ice and strength training is helping him achieve that. “I’ve noticed it in my speed and preparation for games,” he said. Parker said it’s also about the atmosphere created by his teammates. “If someone asked me if they should consider attending THA, I’d 100 percent say go and do it,” he raved. “You become a better, as a player and a person.”
“I want to get a scholarship for college and pay them back for how hard they worked to get me here,” he said.
Pablo Honda Making the decision to attend Tahoe Prep was a relatively easy one for Honda and his family. The 15-yearold freshman who plays for the varsity team is from the remote mountain town of Bishop. With no local yearround rink, he and his parents commuted two and a half hours each way along the Eastern Sierra, often through snowstorms, for a couple years to allow Honda and his brother to play with the Tahoe Grizzlies. With high school on the horizon and no other teams to consider nearby, it seemed like hockey wasn’t going to work. “The more I played the more I wanted to advance and having this opportunity to come to Tahoe Prep made me feel like I could have a bigger goal with hockey,” Honda said. Making the jump from B-level hockey to the varsity team was tough, but it has been made easier by Tahoe Prep’s coaches and players, Honda said. “It was hard at first - the speed is so different, but you are constantly improving and the coaches care, and the whole team was super welcoming,” he said. “They didn’t hold it against me. With this program, you are practicing every day for like 10 months out of the year. You can’t get that development anywhere else.”
Zane Parker Having played hockey since he was just six, Parker - now a 15-yearold sophomore - knew how much he loved the game. When his coach with the California Heat knew he was looking to advance, he connected him with coach Leo Fenn at Tahoe Prep, and after trying out with the academy during a school break, Parker was in. “My main goal was to focus on getting better and to grow up as a person,” said Parker, a defenseman on the varsity team from Inglewood. “In the beginning, it was rough being away from my family, but the team has turned into family and I love it. And you do grow up quicker - we each have our own jobs every day around the dorm, cleaning tables, drying the dishes and doing our own laundry.” Parker said he is focused on trying to get as far as he can in the sport, and the five-day-a-week schedule of
The February issue, featuring the One Step Sharks on the cover, has hit the streets!