Glenwood Springs hockey team maintains family dynamic on and off the ice
Even during pandemic, teammates cherish the sport
Team captains Colter Strautman and Connor Powell said the height of their frustration with the pandemic came when they had to quarantine from their Glenwood Springs hockey teammates, but weren’t actually sick.
“It was pretty depressing honestly, I got pretty sad,” Strautman, who plays center and is a senior at Glenwood Springs High School, said. “It’s because I personally got quarantined twice because my parents had it. I tested twice and never had it so it just felt like a wasted amount of time for me…it was just weird not being on the ice but we got through it.”
The Glenwood Springs team is based out of Glenwood Springs High School but includes players from from Basalt, Roaring Fork, the RE2 school district and even District 51 in Grand Junction.
The teammates said because of club hockey they’ve all played together growing up. Tim Cota started coaching hockey at GSHS in 2018, but had coached in the Glenwood club program since 1998. He said it’s been challenging to keep things interesting during practices since their competitive season was canceled last year and condensed this year. One upside to having a limited number of players on the ice, he said, was being able to coach his athletes on a more individual level.
“Practicing all the time without some kind of goal at the end of the week of practice to playing the game, that’s hard to keep everyone interested, parents, players and coaches. You know when we all want to have that reward after a hard week of practice,” Cota said.
Powell, a senior at GSHS who plays defense, said there’s multiple adjustments that dictate the team’s “new normal” and added steps before they can practice or compete together.
“For practice everyday we have to come in and scan a QR code and fill out a survey, and then get our temperature checked and sign our name and temperature. Then we can go in and practice,” Powell said.
Since hockey is a superstitious sport, Strautman said, not being able to use the locker rooms or have as much time as they’re used to for warm ups before the game, those restrictions are particularly disruptive to the team’s typical process.
“Now we have 15 minutes to get dressed and on the ice…the weirdest thing that really shook us up is…not being able to get to the rink an hour before to get in the right headspace,” Strautman said.
Coaching practices without feedback from games and specific points to hit on requires getting creative, Cota said. For the 2021 season, the team will play a total of 13 games — not including if they advance to the playoffs — within only 4-5 weeks. Cota said he now needs to account for being to build back up his team’s strength with less time to recover in between competitions.
“It’s actually a little bit more intense than what we like because we’re jamming so many games into a short time frame. So now you have to take injuries and fatigue into account when you have back to back games coming up…but it’s better than the alternative of not playing at all for sure,” Cota said.
The changes to how the team is allowed to play affects more than just the players. Their families also need to come to terms with only one guest being allowed to attend matches per athlete. But Cota said the students have been able to adapt considerably well.
Cota said. “We all go through our phases where we get tired of the same old same old…we as coaches try not to show that since it’s the kids that we keep in mind…if there’s anything the kids take away from this it’s how to adapt to situations laid out in front of them. Quite honestly, it seems like the kids have done better than the adults in that matter. They adapt a little bit better,” Cota said.
The team continues to adjust to not having fans at the rink, or dressing up on game days. Powell said that despite the absence of these traditions, the comradery of the sport remains.
“My best friends in the entire world are definitely from hockey…that’s the one thing I have realized is that our team is really like a family…those kids that are older than us they’re still part of our family. So as long as student hockey keeps going we’re going to keep having a family,” Powell said.
Strautman said his hockey career as a whole has been an extremely fulfilling experience and he’s grateful for having started at such a young age.
“Hockey has really changed my life, I couldn’t have asked for a better childhood through hockey. So if anyone’s reading this, I would say put your kids in hockey,” Strautman said.
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