Players are broken out into their respective age groups, depending on the year they were born. Braden (top left), Connor (centre) and Logan (not pictured) are on the 2003 team. Daniel is on the 2006 team. Brayden was accepted but can’t participate this year. Coach and hockey mom Jen Quam says the players are expected to take the experience seriously. “Lots of the teams have dress codes, curfews and nutrition plans.”
by LAURA KEIL
By the end of March, most minor hockey players hang up their skates for the season.
But this year, four local boys have been accepted into BC Northern Selects – a spring hockey league that accepts only the best players in northern BC.
Braden Smith, Connor Quam, Daniel Woroshelo and Brayden Woroshelo passed the December try-outs for the spring league. Through Brayden was accepted, due to scheduling conflicts, he won’t take part this year. A former local – Logan Forman – was also accepted. Four more local players tried out but missed the cut off this year.
Jen Quam, one of the coaches for the combined McBride-Valemount Peewee team, took Connor and Braden to the tryouts.
“They both had a phenomenal try-out,” Quam said. “Braden definitely stood out as one of the top players in his age group.”
Connor also shone. He tried out with the players born in 2003 – one year older than him – and he still made the team.
Connor was on a different spring hockey team out of Prince George last year. This is Daniel’s second time with BC Northern Selects. It’s the first spring hockey experience for the other boys.
Quam says spring hockey is a higher level than regular hockey and it helps develop kids’ skills and ability levels.
“There was a big improvement (for Connor),”she says. “The spring hockey he did last year was a higher elite level.”
She says the benefits go beyond the challenge, however.
“Lots of times in small towns (the coach) is someone they know or their parent coaching them. It’s good for them to see new coaches and coaching styles.”
Brad Alexander, Director of BC Northern Selects, says skating skills are a big priority for acceptance.
“If they couldn’t keep up to the skating then we couldn’t take them,” he says.
Braden Smith says even the try-outs were a good experience.
“It was really fast. Faster than I was used to.”
He says he’s looking forward to learning better how to stay in his position and to play with others who know how to do the same.
He’ll miss a few days of school for the practice weekend and tournaments – four events in all, everywhere from Smithers to Burnaby.
But for someone who learned how to skate shortly after he learned how to walk, it’s a natural next step.
Darren Woroshelo, one of the parent coaches, whose son Daniel will play with the 2006 team, says spring hockey is more than just competitive play. Last year, there were kids from all over the north on Daniel’s spring hockey team.
“It’s that ability to meet different kids from different communities and make new friends and they stay in touch to a degree.”
It also lets the kids understand where they stack up against other players in the province, he says.
“Most kids who play hockey they’re never going to turn it into a career path; the hope is they’re going to have a skill set they can use later in life for rec hockey or something they can do later in life.”
As for the cost, it can cost close to $2000 to take part in spring hockey, between the fees and the travel.
Woroshelo says they usually take the whole family along.
“We turn them into ‘mini family holidays’ – with a hockey tournament going on in the background.”