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.
Vince Indigo Blue Edith Suede Pointy 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.Sam Edelman Black Suede 'josephine' Boots/Booties,
But that’s what he — and all junior-hockey players his age — sign up for. They know it isn’t easy.
Polo Ralph Lauren Navy/Black Men’s Rain 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.
Burberry Gray Haddenfield Cut Out Suede Ankle Eu 36 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.”Christian Louboutin Black Decollete 554 100 Patent Pumps,
Corso Como Taupe Leather Ankle Boots/BootiesSam Edelman Black Penny 2 Riding 14.5" Calf (Gold Tone) Boots/Booties,Robert Clergerie Black Leather Platform Boots/Booties,Eileen Fisher Black Coax Leather Boots/Booties,Henry Ferrera Women's Colorado Butterfly White Tall Rain Boots,Deena & Ozzy Tan Leather Boots/Booties,JustFab Dark Gray Faux Leather Side-bow Suede Boots/Booties,Madewell Black The Dakota Cutoff Item#b8034 Boots/Booties,Céline Red Leather Fully Lined Inside Black Pointy Toe Kitten Heeled Boots/Booties,Nine West Black 'nicoh" Tall Flat 6m Boots/BootiesCharlotte Olympia Black Bejeweled Dotty Platform Pumps,Dolce Vita Neutral- Light Gray Na Boots/BootiesVince Camuto Navy Suede and Leather Boots/Booties,Stuart Weitzman Anthracite (Dark Grey) Highland Boots/BootiesSmoke Boots/Booties,Dr. Martens Black Salome Women Boots/Booties,Emilio Pucci Purp / Green Reds / Black Boots/Booties,Steven by Steve Madden White Silvrado Boots/Booties,Rag & Bone Black Ivory Harrow Boots/BootiesChristian Louboutin Red Pigalle Follies 100 Flamenco Suede Heel Pumps,Christian Louboutin Black New Iriza 100mm Patent Leather 38.5 Pumps,Sam Edelman Blue Margot High Top Sneakers Boots/BootiesAlberto Fermani Black Leather/Taupe Suede Boots/Booties,Nine West Black New Vallins Knee High Suede Boots/Booties,Christian Louboutin Black Kid Decolette 554 100 Pumps,Burberry Tan Black Red Beige Boots/Booties,Valentino Black Rockstud Leather Blue Bead Ankle Strap Heel 39 Pumps,Black Vitaa Rear Zip Ankle Suede Boots/Booties,Franco Sarto Sand Stone Crystal Faux Fur Trimmed Boots/Booties,Loeffler Randall Brown/Tan/Black Reese Snakeskin Leather Ankle 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.”
$90 NEW Vince Camuto Cessily Over-the-Knee Cuffed Leather Boot
SIZE: sz 5.5
COLOR: RED CABERNET
- Round toe
- Leather construction
- Open back cuff
- Gored back shaft inset
- Partial side zip closure
- Approx. 22" shaft height, 15" opening circumference
- Approx. 3" heel
Leather upper, synthetic sole
BRAND NEW in box
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.Dior Brown with Beige Linen 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.
Gray Stacked Heel Short Ankle Boots/Booties,Manolo Blahnik Black Brown Striped Suede Bb Tri Pointed PumpsJimmy Choo Black Patent Leather Slingbacks Pumps,Christian Louboutin White Metallic Gold Fencing Mesh Heel Boots/Booties,Skechers British Tan "Dylan" Studded Distressed Leather Boots/BootiesTibi Red "Philipa" Leather Ankle Boots/Booties,Free People Navy Blue Mystic Moon Boots/Booties,Dolce&Gabbana Multi: Brown Cream Orange Na Boots/Booties,Dr. Martens Black Combat Leather Dr Docs Boots/BootiesVince Camuto Taupe Gray Simlee Suede Verona 9 1/2 New Boots/Booties,Ralph Lauren Brown Purple Label Collection Burnished Calf-belcia Pumps,Christian Louboutin White Decollete 100 Pumps,Matt Bernson Black White Triad Patchwork Zebra Print Leather Cuff Boots/Booties,Frye Tan Julia Stitch Inside-zip Leather Boots/Booties,John Fluevog Red Ultra Modern Vibe Boots/Booties,Hunter Navy Matte (Nvy) Wfs100rma Boots/Booties,The North Face Black Nuptse Ii Boots/Booties,Alberto Fermani Black/ Grey Tall Riding Leather Boots/BootiesHunter Gray Chelsea Rain Dark Slate Gloss 37 Womens Boots/Booties,Tory Burch Black New Fairford 85 Pumps,Christian Louboutin Black Fencing 100 Gold Leather Bootie Heel 40 Pumps,Christian Louboutin Beige and Multicolored Floral Moulamax Velvet 100mm Red Sole Boots/Booties,Isabel Marant Taupe Ralph Guacho Boots/BootiesDr. Martens Deep Red Leather Midcalf Boots/Booties,Chie Mihara Blue Frere In Maru Boots/BootiesAlex Marie Black Shylo Heel Boots/Booties,Aquazzura Grey Dark Suede Slouch New Boots/Booties,Gap Gray Suede - with Wooden Low Chunky Heel and Buckle Across Ankle Boots/Booties,Salvatore Ferragamo Black and Gold Pimpa Snakeskin Leather Pumps,Christian Louboutin Black New Madame Menule 100 Strass Bow 38.5 Evening Pumps,
For him, online classes work best because he takes them wherever he goes, which could be anywhere.
Maison Margiela Tan Brown Scarf Detailed Leather Ankle 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.
Aerosoles Black Longevity Studded 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.”Bottega Veneta Grey Metallic Leather Ankle Heels W/Straps It 38.5/Us 8.5 443165 1117 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.Belle by Sigerson Morrison Light Gray Suede Boots/Booties,
It’s optional, but encouraged.
Christian Louboutin Black White Fifi Leopard Print 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.Valentino Black 41 Gold Rockstud Spike Peep Toe 100mm Boot Booties #972 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.Ariat Tan 2-tone Western Roper Boots/Booties,
It’s part of the gig.
Charles David Camel Lauro Riding 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.
Linea Paolo Pink Python Brown And 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.”Frye Jade Carson-pull On 77685 Boots/Booties,