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.
Burberry Pink Multi-color Women's House-check Rubber Wellies 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.Lucchese Olive Brown Goat Suede Riding Boots/Booties,
But that’s what he — and all junior-hockey players his age — sign up for. They know it isn’t easy.
Sigerson Morrison Black Scarlett Ankle Suede-paneled 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.
Fiorentini + Baker Taupe Gray 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.”Nicholas Kirkwood Navy X Peter Pilotto Pumps,
Steve Madden Pink Metallic Rock and Roll Princess Boots/Booties,Dark Red Boots (Reserved for Manon),Salvatore Ferragamo Multi-color "Petal" Leather High Pumps,Sperry Ivory Women's Saltwater Duck Boots/Booties,Steve Madden Grey Concrete Leather 10m Boots/Booties,Ann Taylor Black Brazilian Leather Calf High Boots/BootiesDolce Vita Black Tessey Low Heel Boots/BootiesEmilio Pucci Purple Pink Rain Boots/BootiesSee by Chloé Beige Leather Calfskin Boots/Booties,Dolce Vita Saddle Suede (Tan) Teague Boots/Booties,Gianni Bini Black Western Leather Ankle Boots/Booties,Christian Louboutin Taupe Leather Ankle 90 High Heel Lady Fashion Toe Italy Pump Red Sole Boots/BootiesChristian Louboutin White Nosy 100 Latte Pvc Transparent T Strap Ankle Patent Leather Heel PumpsCharles by Charles David Black Distressed Suede Persue Boots/Booties,Sam Edelman Grey Olencia Suede Leather Tall Boots/Booties,Jimmy Choo Dark Gray Music Pebbled Leather Mid-calf Boots/Booties,Chloé Burgundy Suede Lauren Block Heel Ankle Boots/Booties,Lucky Brand Slate Blue Leather Cowboy Boots/Booties,Christian Louboutin Black Pigalle Follies Pointy Toe 100 Mm Patent Pumps,Donald J. Pliner Purple Croc Salonan Boots/BootiesSaint Laurent Black 375366b 810 Pumps,Tory Burch Burgundy Port Floral Leather Boots/BootiesFree People Black Festival Studded Sandal In Jet Matte Sueded Leather Eu 38 Boots/BootiesFranco Sarto Dover Taupe Medium Calf Leather Over-the-knee Boots/BootiesVince Camuto Dark Navy Vc-jacilla2 Boots/Booties,Christian Louboutin White Nosy 100 Latte Pvc Transparent T Strap Ankle Patent Leather Heel Pumps,Isabel Marant Sage Suede Ankle with Zipper Boots/Booties,Lucky Brand Blue Women's Abeni Boots/Booties,Taupe/Grey Boots/Booties,Lane Boots Brown & Turquoise 'dawson' Studded 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.”
Ideal for icy, cold commutes, this warm and waterproof boot is designed with performance materials and a fashion-forward style. Waterproof suede/leather upper combines with mesh panels treated with DWR (durable water repellent) for added weather-resistance. Waterproof shell bottom provides durable protection where most elements are met. Ample and lofty PrimaLoft Eco insulation throughout provides warmth in conditions down to -25F. Grippy lugs at outsole ensure stable footing on slick surfaces. Women-specific fit
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.Jeffrey Campbell Black White Western Style Suede Stiletto Boots/Booties,
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.
Etienne Aigner Black Derby Leblk Boots/Booties,Cole Haan Dark Gull Gray Rainproof Boots/BootiesValentino Black Gold Nude Rockstud' T-strap Pumps,Christian Louboutin Black Pigalle Follies 100mm Patent Leather Pumps,Chloé Neutral (Light Beige) Erin Prince Leather Buckled Knee High Tall Riding Flat 36.5 Boots/BootiesTory Burch Dark Tan Stafford Suede Boots/Booties,Old Gringo Red Nevada 13 Boots/BootiesNine West Blue Lilian Chelsea Boots/Booties,Alexandra Neel Black Suede Knee High Boots/Booties,Rebecca Minkoff Stone Audrey Leather Ankle Boots/Booties,Kurt Geiger London Grey Baker Boots/Booties,Christian Louboutin Black Pigalle 120 Mm Patent Leather Pumps,Valentino Black Rockstud Leather (155656) Pumps,Charles by Charles David Taupe Faux Fur Boots/BootiesJ. Adams Tan Cutout Metal Tip Ankle Boots/Booties,Givenchy Dusty Rose Shark Tooth Lock Boots/Booties,B?rn Olive Green Patent Leather Ankle Boots/Booties,Jeffrey Campbell Black 'corwin' Open Toe Boots/BootiesStudio Pollini Gray and Silver Metallic Reptile Embossed Boots/Booties,Christian Louboutin Silver Jonatina 100 Metallic Pvc Strap Sandal Heel PumpsChristian Louboutin White Classic Iriza Kid Leather 100mm Half D Orsay Pointy Sz. Euro Pumps,Céline White Leather Slingback Open Toe Boots/Booties,Nine West Tan Peep Toe Boots/Booties,Stuart Weitzman Burgundy New Croc Embossed 5050 Reserve Over The Knee Boots/Booties,Stuart Weitzman Blue 5050 Napa Leather Over The Knee Boots/Booties,Frye Yellow Black Label Campus Vintage 70's Stitching Horse Banana Leather Women's Boots/Booties,Steve Madden Black Leather Aces Boots/Booties,Vince Camuto Gray Cene Suede Over The Knee Platform Boots/Booties,Veronica Beard Tan Shae Huarache Sandal Pumps,Christian Louboutin Black Ograde Cross Strap 100 Patent Leather D'orsay Pumps
For him, online classes work best because he takes them wherever he goes, which could be anywhere.
Steve Madden Taupe-gray Leather Nevalia 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.
Sperry Green Plaid Wellies Rain 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.”Dr. Martens Black 20 Eyelet 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.Vince Camuto Stone Taupe 37 Tressa Cutout Suede Sandal Boots/Booties,
It’s optional, but encouraged.
Alexander McQueen Olive Green Black Gold Leather D'orsay Pointed Toe Ankle Strap Stud Pumps,“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.Christian Louboutin Black Akdooch 85mm Wedge 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.Tory Burch Red White and Blue New Navy Logo Waterproof Knee High Riding Rain M Boots/Booties,
It’s part of the gig.
Prada Camel Calzature Donna Softcalf 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.
Red Raiven2 Knee-high Dress 610 Oxblood 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.”Via Spiga Blue Aurora Dress Ankle Deep / 36.5 Eu Used Boots/Booties,