Jackson Decker’s typical day isn’t unlike that of most high-school seniors.
Out of bed by 7:30 a.m. Check.
School by 8. Check.
Lunch around noon. Check.
Nine West Taupe Myrtle Riding Boots/Booties,By 5, he’s home for dinner. By 7, he’s elbow deep in homework. By 10 — or 11, depending on how many video games are played — he’s in bed. Sounds pretty standard, doesn’t it?
But the middle of the day — that noon-to-5 slot — is what makes Decker different than most kids his age.
Decker is a defenseman for the Coulee Region Chill, which, as a high-school-aged player, demands a special kind of commitment. Playing junior hockey is essentially a full-time job, but when you add regular schoolwork to the equation, it becomes even more complex.Free People Light Lilac Perforated Leather Sandals Platform Heels Boots/Booties,
But that’s what he — and all junior-hockey players his age — sign up for. They know it isn’t easy.
Isabel Marant Army Green Franklin Embellished Canvas Boots/Booties,sMy coach last year was a big advocate of junior hockey and pushing kids on to the next level,” Decker said. “He reached out to a couple coaches last year for me, not just in the NAHL but in different leagues, too.
“I didn’t think it was that hard of a decision. I definitely had to go over everything with my coach and my family and all of that, and then working things out with my high school before I fully committed to it, but this is something I want to do.”
Despite his choice, Decker is a regular 17-year-old in almost every other way.
Miu Miu Black Prada Rubber Wellies Rain Boots/Booties,“I would say after practice, he’s home by 5 and he’s a normal high-school kid,” said Andy Palmer, one of Decker’s billet (host family) parents. “He’s got homework he has to do. He hangs out with classmates; we have a high school kid of our own, and they get along really well. They play their NBA 2K games and set up tournaments and stuff like that.
“He’s just a normal kid once he’s away from the ice. He has the same responsibilities as any high schooler.”
It’s not uncommon.
Including Decker, the Chill have three high-school-aged skaters in their squad. They had four before 16-year-old Todd Scott was elevated to the USHL. As for the rest of the league, all but one team has at least one player — as of today — under the age of 18. Of those 23 teams, 15 have at least three.
Furthermore, of the 23 active members of Coulee Region’s roster, 15 played at least one season of junior hockey before receiving their high-school diplomas. Nine played two or more.
It’s part of the gig. Simultaneous pursuit of athletic and academic goals is a regular practice in junior hockey, one that all players — including those who have already graduated from high school — gladly welcome. They understand the challenges of the journey.
If anything, it forces kids to mature at a much quicker rate.
“The biggest thing, for me personally, is it matured me,” said A.J. Degenhart, former Chill coach, who played two seasons with the USHL’s Green Bay Gamblers before joining the University of Wisconsin.
“Those couple years of being, not necessarily on your own because you have a billet family, but being on your own away from your support group and not having them right there to bail you out all the time, I think it makes you grow up in a hurry. I can say for myself, with the coaches I had, they taught me a lot of life lessons in the couple years I was there. That stuff is invaluable, so when a kid does move on, we always say, we want a player to come in a boy and leave as a man.”Sam Edelman Grey Pirro Suede Boots/Booties,
Crown Vintage Avery Cognac Tan Peep Toe Nonstop Leather *reduced* Boots/Booties,Belle by Sigerson Morrison Grey Suede Zipper Boots/Booties,Christian Louboutin Red Blue Black Classic Harler 100mm Ankle Cuff D'orsay Leather Point-toe Sandals Pumps,Christian Louboutin Black Sharpstagram 100 Patent Pumps,House of Harlow 1960 Tan Boots/BootiesManolo Blahnik Black M. Tayler Pumps,Dr. Martens Navy with Flower Print Hackney Boots/Booties,Marc Jacobs Grey Patent Leather Mid - Calf 38.5 (64668) Boots/Booties,Dior Beige 'admit It' Suede Corset Ankle Boots/Booties,French Connection Purple Suede W/ Back Zippers Boots/Booties,Steve Madden Grey Suede Carlsen Boots/Booties,Stuart Weitzman Tan Lowland Suede Boots/Booties,Christian Louboutin Red Jonatina 100 Bisou Orange Coral Pvc Ankle Strap Sandal Heel Pumps,Givenchy Blush Pink Nude Egyptian Heel Knee High Boots/BootiesChristian Louboutin Black Soustelissimo 100 Patent Strappy Heel PumpsMissoni for Target Pink Black Blue Green Yellow Boots/Booties,10 Crosby Derek Lam Cream Dannie Boots/Booties,Forever Burgundy Ankle Block Heel Man Made Buckle Zipper Boots/Booties,Jeffrey Campbell Wine Brush Off 8th St Boots/Booties,Donald J. Pliner Black Metallic Pronto Pm Boots/Booties,Cole Haan Dark Gull Gray Adler Tall Boots/BootiesTory Burch Lan Grey Milan Wedge Boots/Booties,Sam Edelman Black Over The Knee Paloma Boots/Booties,Joie Tan Lucy Embellished Suede Boots/BootiesSalvatore Ferragamo Purple Vara Ribbon Rain Italy Boots/BootiesChristian Louboutin Black Decollete Satin Pumps,Dark Grey Western Boots/Booties,Tommy Hilfiger Black/Red Inside Leather Boots/Booties,Christian Louboutin Black Coralta Mia 100 Glitter Beaded Heart PumpsStuart Weitzman Beige The 5050 Boots/Booties,
A senior, Decker prefers an in-class educational experience. That’s why he attends Holmen High School.
But not all junior players are like Decker. Depending on personal preference or individual goals, a player may opt for alternative schooling options.
“It’s really up to them and their parents,” said Shelly LaPlount, Coulee Region’s director of housing, who acknowledged the possibility of players taking online courses.
“If they ask my opinion, I will give it. These kids have to grow up so fast, and they make so many sacrifices. I encourage them to still attend a physical school, just so they have a little bit of their childhood, of their senior year; so they can follow a football team, or go to a prom, or get all those experiences.
“These kids give up so much.”
Beautiful beige calf hair boots. Round toe line. Zips on inner shaft. 1 3/8’ blocked heels. Leather lining & soles. Super clean & comfy. Very good condition
But it’s worth it for most.
Still, some kids opt to add an in-school experience to their already-altered lifestyle; to provide an element of normalcy.
That option works best for Decker. And for Marshal Plunkett and Kevin Bryant, both of whom attend their respective hometown schools of West Salem and Central as senior students.
“One of the things we try to make all of our students understand; we want them to get involved, go to events, participate,” Holmen principal Bob Baer said. “High school is only four years long, and once you leave here, things change a little bit. So we really promote that, both with the Chill players and with our non-Chill players.
“And I’ve seen our Chill players at events in the past. They do get involved.”
But in-school arrangements aren’t for every junior-hockey player. For others, online classes are a better fit.
“It depends a lot on the kid, because everyone’s different,” LaPlount said.
Such was the case for Todd Scott.
Upon his arrival to Coulee Region, Scott was — and still is — a high-school junior, though he’s been playing some form of junior hockey since his freshman year. He played in two different locations before joining the Chill, and now, he’s in Sioux City backing up former Coulee Region goaltender Matiss Kivlenieks in the USHL.Valentino Black Suede Cut Out Bow Peep Toe Evening High Heels 37m Pumps,
Since October, Scott has played for three different junior teams, on three different levels, in three different cities. And his junior career is still very much in its infancy.
Tahari Black Rooster Wide Calf Riding 647 Boots/Booties,Sam Edelman Black Stretch Over Knee Varona Boots/Booties,Vera Wang Dark Grey Sneaker Wedge Boots/Booties,Christian Louboutin Black Patent Pigalle 85mm Pumps,Christian Louboutin Black Dorissima Patent Leather 100mm Pumps,House of Harlow 1960 Tan Boots/BootiesJeffrey Campbell Taupe Western Suede Trendy Boots/Booties,BCBGeneration Red Pointed Toe Strappy Dress Ankle Cherry 5.5us Boots/Booties,Steve Madden Navy Blue Lauuren Boots/Booties,Calvin Klein Black "Tipper" Riding Winter Real Fur Hyde Boots/Booties,Diane von Furstenberg Black Purple and Gray Suede Platform Ankle Boots/Booties,Grey New Suede Leather Australian Waterproof Shearling Boots/Booties,Christian Louboutin Black Very Prive Peep Toe Pumps,Christian Louboutin White New Simple 120 Satin Wedding Euro 36 / Pumps,Laurence Dacade Tan Suede Ankle Boots/BootiesL.L.Bean Tan/Navy Women's 8" Standard Bean Boots/Booties,Balmain Antique Pink 20mm Taiga Leather Military Boots/Booties,Via Spiga Olive V-leya Moss Boots/Booties,Cole Haan Black Leather Ankle Tioga Boots/Booties,Hogan Grey Felt Leather Ankle Boots/Booties,Gianvito Rossi Black Blogger Sold Out Gala Bow Tie Ankle Silk Ribbon Leather Pumps,Christian Louboutin Black Simple 100 Pumps,Valentino Brown Nude Black Lacquered Rockstud Colorblock Caged Pumps,Shiekh Brown Natural Tan Wood Grain Faux Bois Wedge Boots/BootiesSteve Madden Tan - Brown Creation Leather Boots/Booties,Hush Puppies Purple Cyra Catelyn Boots/Booties,Dr. Martens Dark Green Midcalf Leather Chunky Boots/Booties,Frye Black Veronica Stud Moto Short Boots/Booties,Aerosoles Grey Lincoln Square Pull On Cowboy 600 Boots/Booties,Jimmy Choo Black Leather Multi Haxeel Metallic Criss Cross Pointy Pumps
For him, online classes work best because he takes them wherever he goes, which could be anywhere.
Kendall + Kylie White Elena Boots/Booties,“The more you transfer, the more that may not transfer,” LaPlount said of moving credits from one high school to the next. “And so you don’t want to come up short. Todd still has time in his situation because he’s still just a junior. But as a senior, you don’t have time to make up. So if you’re going to miss a credit and it’s going to cause you to not graduate, that’s a big deal.”
Education is paramount to the junior-hockey experience. If a player falls behind on his studies, it reflects on his playing time.
Vetements Blue Star Appliqué Block Heel Leather Ankle Boots/Booties,And that’s by design. There’s a reason why 92.1 percent of NCAA men’s hockey players graduate with degrees, more than any other NCAA sport. Junior hockey determines who can handle college-level responsibilities, and who can’t.
“School comes first,” LaPlount said. “Whether you’re on the bench that Friday night or Saturday night, that means more than anything to these kids. Once the coach gets involved, things change quickly, if need be. But thankfully, we haven’t had an issue on the Chill team at all.”Tecnica Cream Fur with Cranberry Suede Apres Ski Boots/Booties,
Life after graduation
All but three of Coulee Region’s current players already have their high school diplomas.
Well done, guys. Now what?
There’s more than one answer to that question for a junior-hockey player.
Getting a high-school diploma doesn’t always mean a player is finished with school. Some junior players elect to take an online class or two, particularly if their grade-point average needs improving. Others take classes just to stay sharp.Circus by Sam Edelman Black Rafa Boots/Booties,
It’s optional, but encouraged.
10 Crosby Derek Lam Grey Mid-calf Boots/Booties,“Some of the players do want to keep their minds going, because to take two years off of school and then jump in as a college freshman; when you haven’t done any studying or reading for two years, it’s tough to jump back in,” LaPlount said. “So some like to take a course just to keep things fresh.”
But additional schooling isn’t for everyone.
Others stay engaged as members of the local workforce, as some guys — including a handful of Chill players — land part-time jobs on the side. That isn’t always the case, as the ever-changing nature of junior hockey makes it difficult for companies to hire junior players. But the right connections can yield suitable arrangements, as they have for several Coulee Region skaters over the last five years.A.P.C. Dark Navy Moccasin Lucille Pumps,
Beyond that, the Chill are also required to maintain an active presence in the community. That includes all manner of things; from reading in local elementary-school classrooms, to ringing a bell for the Salvation Army.Christian Louboutin White Follies Strass 100 Nude Mesh Pigalle Heel 36.5 Pumps,
It’s part of the gig.
Wellington Red Blue White Union Jack Rubber Boots/Booties,No matter what they do in their spare time — whether it’s attending high-school classes, working a shift at Burrachos or volunteering time at a local charity — the Chill are expected to be active, engaging members to the local community.
Most of them may be teenagers, but they’re expected to be role models.
J.Crew Taupe / Mink Suede Wedge Ankle Boots/Booties,“We get a pretty good feel for things in the first month, whether this is a student we need to keep an eye on, or whether this is someone who is or is not showing up for work and being a good citizen for the community,” said Chill coach Ryan Egan, who is midway through his first season with Coulee Region.
“That’s one thing about this level. Expectations are high. There are more than 1,000 players that would want to replace any player on this roster. Is it tougher to replace talent sometimes? Sure, but being a good person is first and foremost. And if you’re not a good person, we’re not going to keep you here. … The players know that they’re expendable at this level, so there’s always that hanging over their head, but I think we instill in them that it’s good to be a part of the community.”Stuart Weitzman Red Jefe Stretch-suede Knee Boots/Booties,