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Fall 2014-

Aiken brothers both earn spots at Notre Dame and Harvard

Over the past years the WEHL is proud to have a number of our past players go on to play college hockey at Division I and III. However for the first time in our history we have brothers Joe and Thomas Aiken both playing Division I Hockey at two of the most recognizable and prestigious universities in our country; Notre Dame and Harvard. While each of them took their own unique path to playing Division I Hockey both brothers experienced playing 4 years of WIAA Hockey representing  Whitefish Bay High School, playing in the WEHL while not playing junior hockey. Recently I contacted Joe and Thomas and asked them some questions about their paths to Division I Hockey along with what in my view many high school players and parents do not give enough focus to; academic excellence. Both Joe and Thomas were kind enough in taking time out of their hectic schedules to answer my questions in hopes of benefiting players still in the WEHL with aspirations of playing college hockey.

Joe Aiken responses

Senior Notre Dame University

1-While in high school how did you view the relationship of academics to sports? (Did one have a priority over the other; parents have rules, etc. etc.)

Academics always came first in our family. My parents always stressed how important it is to do well in school and how many opportunities that can be created for you down the road.

2-Was there a conscience effort of knowing academics could influence your school choice for college sports or was this never a consideration?

Although I always dreamed of playing hockey in college, I never got recruited by any schools so it wasn’t much of a consideration. I wanted to do well in school so I could get into a great university just based on academics. I ended up at Notre Dame and hockey eventually worked out for me a couple years down the road, which never could have happened if I hadn’t been able to get in.

3-In high school was playing hockey in college a goal? If yes was there a plan to reach the goal, what year did you formulate a plan, what were the goals, etc. etc.

College hockey was always my dream. It was about dedicating myself to becoming the best player I could be. My brother and I would spend lots of time figuring out what things we were going to do every day in the summer to do that, such as weightlifting, open ice times, shooting and stickhandling at home, etc.

4-Did either of your parents play NCAA sport(s) in college, if yes did they offer insights, guidance, required standards from you, etc. etc.

My father played goalie at Harvard. He always told me that if you were good enough, it would work out. So all you can really worry about is just getting better. He also always told us how important it was to do well in school and how many doors that would open for us in the future.

5-What advice would you offer a high school athlete who wants to participate in sports at the NCAA level?

As I’ve already mentioned, doing well in school will create a lot of opportunities for you. Athletically, all you can do is commit yourself to getting better every day and making the sacrifices to do that.

6-What benefits would you share about playing WIAA high school hockey?

High school hockey is still the most fun I’ve had playing hockey. The atmosphere and playing for your school is unlike anything else. Compared to AAA hockey, it is much less of a time and travel commitment which gives you more time to do things that are going to make you a better hockey player.

7-How do you view the WEHL in terms of helping you develop as high school player?

WEHL gave me the chance to play with and against some of the most skilled players in the state, which helped me improve as a player and that translated into success during the high school season.

8-What did you enjoy most about playing in the WEHL?

The part I liked most was getting to play with some really good players that you’re used to playing against during the high school season. It’s fun to get a chance to play with those guys and makes it even more competitive when you’re playing against them in high school.

9-What are the biggest academic and athletic challenges you face playing college hockey?

It is a huge time commitment so trying to stay on top of your schoolwork is a constant challenge. Learning to manage your time during high school makes it a lot easier.

10-If you were to give advice to a high school hockey player who has desire to play NCAA hockey what would it be?

My advice would be to sit down and figure out what things you’re going to do every day to get better. And then you have to stay disciplined to doing those things, whether it’s going to the gym, finding open ice to practice, shooting pucks, or eating right.

Thomas Aiken responses

Freshman at Harvard University

1-While in high school how did you view the relationship of academics to sports? (Did one have a priority over the other; parents have rules, etc. etc.)

For me academics always took priority over sports. This was something my parents instilled in me at an early age and something I personally believed in as well. Time management skills are key to balance the two, but to me being a “student athlete” always meant being a student first and an athlete second.

2-In high school was playing hockey in college a goal? If yes was there a plan to reach the goal, what year did you formulate a plan, what were the goals, etc. etc.

I have always had the dream of playing college hockey. In high school I think my goals were focused on helping WNS win games and have as successful of a career as I could during my years there. I tried to take it one day, one practice, one game, and one season at a time and see what opportunities I could create for myself after my years at WNS. I had watched my older brother Joe walk on to the Notre Dame Hockey team, which was a huge inspiration for me to continue pursuing my dream of college hockey. I took a gap year after high school to continue developing my game in hopes of walking on to the team at Harvard and reached that goal this fall when earning a roster spot on the team.

3-Did either of your parents play NCAA sport(s) in college, if yes did they offer insights, guidance, required standards from you, etc. etc.

My dad played hockey for Harvard during his college years. He has always stressed the importance of strong work ethic, desire to improve, and sound fundamentals as the keys to success for any anybody both on the ice and elsewhere in life. He has also stressed the value of academics and their priority over athletics. He always says that hockey only lasts so long and all players will eventually rely on their education once hockey is over.

4-What advice would you offer a high school athlete who wants to participate in sports at the NCAA level?

My advice would be to follow your dream. Playing NCAA sports may seem like an overwhelming goal to take on, but it can be accomplished just like anything else by taking one day at a time. Do your best every day to be a better player than you were yesterday and the improvements you will see over time will be tremendous. If I have learned anything from my experience with hockey it is that hard work is always rewarded. 

5-What benefits would you share about playing WIAA high school hockey?

My years playing high school hockey are the greatest memories of my hockey career thus far. The atmosphere, the competition, and the lifelong friendships that are formed cannot be replaced by anything. It is such a privilege to play hockey with classmates and friends while representing your high school on the ice. The coaching at WNS along with the competition at the varsity level developed my game greatly while providing me with lifelong memories and friends on and off the ice.

6-How do you view the WEHL in terms of helping you develop as high school player?

WEHL was essential in continuing to develop my hockey game. With the relatively short high school season, WEHL provides the essential transition into the high school season. WEHL allowed me to skate with and against varsity competition to properly prepare myself for the beginning of the winter season. It was a great bridge that allowed to me to retain my summer gains and advance them further before the high school season began every year.

7-What did you enjoy most about playing in the WEHL?

I enjoyed playing WEHL because it provided high-level competition for varsity hockey players while operating on a schedule that was reasonable and flexible for players to keep a focus on academics and respect other commitments outside of hockey as well. 

8-What other benefits did the WEHL provide you?

WEHL also provided me the opportunity to make many new teammates and friends from rivaling Milwaukee area high schools that made my experience during the high school season even more fun with familiar faces on many opposing teams we played throughout the course of every year.

9-What changes would help make the WEHL better in benefiting high school hockey players?

I think the only improvement that would enhance the WEHL experience in my mind would be to field more teams at each age level, if possible, to extend opportunities to more high school hockey players every year and broaden the reach of WEHL hockey.

10-What are the biggest academic and athletic challenges you face playing college hockey?

The largest challenge I have faced in my first semester here is balancing a full college course load with the commitments of playing on the hockey team. It is definitely a time management challenge, but I have found that being diligent with my work both in the classroom and at the rink makes it manageable to juggle both. I try to plan out each day with a detailed schedule so my time is not wasted, and I have found that this has helped my efficiency greatly allowing me time to meet expectations as a student and athlete here on campus. 

11-If you were to give advice to a high school hockey player who has desire to play NCAA hockey what would it be?

My advice to a high school hockey player desiring to play NCAA hockey would be to believe in yourself. There is no limit to what a hockey player with a positive attitude and a strong work ethic can accomplish. Take your goals one day at a time and go to bed a better player than you woke up that day. Be willing to identify the weaknesses in your game and address them until they become strengths, as this is where true improvement happens. Break up the dream of playing college hockey into successive checkpoints along the way to that final destination. Take one step towards your goal every day and, once arriving at one checkpoint, start working towards the next one. Every college hockey player in the nation today started as a high school student with the dream of playing college just like so many other kids. Believe in yourself through the highs and lows and earn it by making the most of every day as an opportunity to get better!

I trust the responses of Joe and Thomas help you to stay on track to achieve your dreams.

John K Zea

WEHL Commissioner


U16 WEHL All League  2013    
FIRST TEAM         
Jimmy Curliss #20 Mad.Grey FWD Edgewood
Joe Hobbs #20 MIL.Black FWD Homestead
Alex Nagel #17 NC FWD Antigo
Sheldon Oja #6 NC DEF Wausau West
Jacob Dufresne #18 NC DEF SPASH
Alex Jones #30 Mad.Grey GOAL Verona
SECOND TEAM        
Luke Kreuser #21 NC FWD Wis. Rapids
Jake Kandel #11 MIL.Black FWD USM
Jordan Hylbert #19 Mad.Blue FWD Middleton
Cory Dennis #5 Mad.Grey DEF Mad. Memorial
Andrew Emberson #7 W DEF EC- Memorial
Armand Hess #1 W GOAL Regis
HONORABLE MENTION      
Zach Johnson #18 NE FWD Ahswaubenon
Tyler Ebner #8 SW FWD Onalaska
Jack Pavek #10 NE DEF Notre Dame
Tom Berg #12 W DEF Regis
Jerzey Judge #15 MIL.Black DEF USM
Brett Guerts #30 NE GOAL DePere

 


 

U18 WEHL All League 2013

Milwaukee
Nick Martin - Cedarburg
Mike Schultz - Homestead
Mitch Hart - Oak Creek


NorthCentral
Zach Peterson - Wausau West
Caleb Schroer - Wisconsin Rapids
Michael Moe - D C Everest

Madison
Griffen Epping - Madison West
Philippe Fromberger - Verona
Zach Johnston - Monona Grove

NorthEast
Matt DeNure - Oshkosh Lourdes
Krystof Kocanek - Howard - Suamico
William Reabe - DePere

SouthWest/West
Ian Earp - Onalaska
John Gargaro - Onalaska
Adam Marty - Somerset

The top Goalie tandem was from Milwaukee
Jacob Kupsky - Waukesha West
Bryan Botcher - University School

The players who are Juniors in High School this season and are nominated for participation in the Midwest Elite League/Shattuck Exposure Tournament in March are:


Nathan Anderson - Oregon                               William Sprink - Mosinee
Joe Witz - Onalaska                                          Jon Carfagna - Oconomowoc
Casey Esselman - Lincoln                                  Logan Froberg - Bayport
Mitchell Gerhartz - Hortonville                           Bennett Huston - Onalaska
Riley Karns - Madison Memorial                         Allen Moutvic - Oconomowoc
Kyle Paulson - Bayport                                      Justin Persh - KMMO
Max Schauff - Madison Edgewood                     Anthony Schliep - Holmen
Matt Sprink - Mosinee



 
  
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