Youth players hope for high school help

For many students across the Western Slope, hockey has recently resumed for the winter season. But for Moffat County High School students on the Craig Youth Hockey Team, they've been preparing for this season months ahead due to funding issues. MCHS has found difficulty fitting requirements for a school sponsored hockey team, leading student’s at MCHS to play on a community club. Even though CYH supports the needs for many students, a few have decided to play for different teams in the region as well. Hockey is a sponsored winter sport in many schools' athletic departments, sponsored by the school and CHASA. Due to insufficient finances, CYH's traveling costs and ice time must be provided on their own by players.

“Each of the kids have to pay for a part of their ice time at the rink, their entries to play, equipment and travel expenses to play,” said coach Tanya Ferguson. Junior Michael Samuelson has been playing hockey for Steamboat the past three years. “I’ve been playing hockey for about twelve years. I play for Steamboat Springs High School because it is sponsored by the school and CHASA, along with being more competitive,” said Samuelson.

The Steamboat team has to pay athletic fees and buy equipment, but are provided with warm-ups and game day attire. Freshman Thayne Riley has been playing hockey for seven years. “It does cost a lot, but it is worth it because I love to play,” said Riley. Ferguson and Riley both agreed that their biggest rival is Durango. To Samuelson and Riley, distance and traveling is their least favorite part about playing.

The Craig team practices three days a week for one hour, and the Steamboat team practices three days a week at 2:45.

The CYH Team hopes the school district will sponsor hockey at the high school. The aspect of not having a school team has made it difficult for local players to improve because some of the same advantages are not offered, like scrimages and being able to play with a wider variety of teams. The CYH team does find time in between traveling and school to increase their advancement on the team though. “Our team is getting bigger, this year we have fifteen kids playing; three girls and twelve boys. There has been improvement since last season, but a lot of the older kids have graduated. Some of the younger kids need to step up as leaders,” said Ferguson.

Even after dealing with all of the difficulties, team members agree that playing for CYH is worth it. “I hope I can contribute to the team and make more goals. I’m leaning towards playing football after high school, but not if not football, definitely hockey,” said Samuelson.  The hockey season started the second week of October and ends the second week in March.

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