Hockey team shoots for program turnaround with new training


Nayeon Ryu

The teams celebrates after scoring against Saint Mary’s Nov. 30. Freshman and defender Nathan Meek (2) contributes with two assists in his debut win of 10-1. “I’m pretty sure height can be an intimidating factor, but you [have to] get over it and just play the game,” Meek said. “As long as you know you have teammates that are going to back you up and can help you, you have nothing to worry about.”

After the hockey team finished with a division record of 8-14-1 last season, head coach Brian Waddell and assistant coach Rich Meek are taking charge to lead the team to a comeback season.

According to sophomore forward Skyler Ji, one reason the team fell short of their goals last season was the lack of productive and constructive practices.

“Instead of two people going at a time in a drill, we would have five people going at a time, practicing what it would look like in an actual game. Now, we’re practicing game situations [unlike] last year,” Ji said.

Because of the newly constructed practices, Waddell hopes they now have an advantage over Whitfield and Francis Howell North, their conference foes, due to their veteran players’ chemistry.

“When you have a number of players that have been together that long, [their skill set] doesn’t necessarily matter,” Waddell said. “They just have the ability to understand and know each other and have those friendships and relationships that bond further than just the hockey skills.”

Despite the team’s strong chemistry, they are at a disadvantage when it comes to the program size.  The program consists of around 20 players compared to their opponents’ 50 or 60 player program.

“Parkway School District as a whole struggle with retaining players and keeping them from going to private schools,” Waddell said. “Our biggest problem moving forward is keeping our home-grown talent and allowing them [to have a] program they feel comfortable in. This can provide them with student-athlete growth as well as a winning environment, so they feel comfortable staying at Parkway West as opposed to choosing another option or a private education.”

They just have the ability to understand and know each other and have those friendships and relationships that bond further than just the hockey skills.”

— head coach Brian Waddell

The team has taken in students from Parkway North and Parkway Central that do not have the opportunity to play for their school.

“James Sherstoff is a player from Central,” junior defender Andrew Aydt said. “He’s played hockey with half the team growing up, so he was able to fit in well and the chemistry was just there.”

Moving forward, the coaches hope to individually train with players year-round to hone their skills and talents.

“We have a summer camp that we run one day a week where we invite all players that are able to participate in Parkway West Hockey,” Waddell said. “We begin with skills in skating and individual development. In the beginning of the school year, before hockey season begins, we do a six week off ice training where we discuss conditioning [and] nutrition, teach the kids how to properly stretch and teach hockey speed development skills that are pertinent to hockey as opposed to other sports. Then we get into the season and we do our two to three practices a week.”

The coaches give students the opportunities to express their individual goals for the season.

Nayeon Ryu
Senior Luke Leahy gets up after diving for a save.

“We have our own little homework where we give them a packet that helps them describe what our Parkway West schemes are, what our individual goals are as far as team play, and what our goal is to have success on the ice.”

Although he was disappointed by the season last year, Waddell still believes that the team can pull out more than 15 wins and reach the Wickenheiser Cup Finals.

“[This is an] opportunity for kids to get into a situation of possibly winning a championship as well as growing the program so some of the younger student-athletes, such as freshmen, sophomores and kids in middle school can come to games, get excited about Parkway West hockey and get some excitement around campus for the West program moving in the right direction,” Waddell said.