Moffat County, Steamboat athlete to play junior hockey in Chicago
Craig — Another athlete from Moffat County High School will be following his dreams of playing sports at the next level in the coming fall.
Jarret Walt, a receiver on the Bulldogs’ football team and member of the MCHS Class of 2013, didn’t participate in any sports in Craig during the winter or spring but still put in plenty of work for his favorite sport — hockey.
Walt played for the Steamboat Springs High School hockey team in the winter and attended a series of hockey showcases across Colorado in front of scouts with other top young players.
Playing outside of Craig every week in the winter took a major commitment from Walt and his family and raised his personal gas bill significantly. Yet, the time and work paid off for him. On June 11, Walt was the ninth pick in the 2013 North American Tier III Hockey League Draft.
Walt has signed with the Chicago Junior Bulldogs, a new team in the NA3HL that saw him skate at showcases and decided to add the former Bulldog and Sailor to its roster. He had been planning on playing junior hockey for the past couple of years, but getting an opportunity in a higher-profile league was an exciting prospect, he said.
“NA is mostly a stepping stone league,” Walt said. “The main focus is not as much about winning games but to move players up, and that’s what I want is to improve. It’s more big-city teams in an area where hockey is just a bigger deal in general, so it’s easier to get noticed.”
Walt had spoken with Junior Bulldogs coach Tom Clarke prior to the draft and found out they were going to use their first pick on him. So that was the exciting time for him, as opposed to draft day when it was made official.
“When he called and told me that, I was really pumped,” Walt said. “Since sophomore year, since hockey got really serious for me, this is what I’ve wanted.”
His coach at Steamboat, Jeff Ruff, said Walt has the ability to be successful because he is an excellent worker on the ice.
“His work ethic is something I’ve always admired,” Ruff said. “That’s why I made him assistant captain his junior year and captain his senior year, due to his work ethic and dedication. I know that will be a strong suit for him when he goes there.”
Junior hockey gives good high school players a chance to continue playing the sport they love for a couple of years before deciding on the next step — whether it be stopping, playing hockey in college, minor leagues or in Europe. Walt is not certain what the next step will be for him, but players age out of junior hockey at 21, so he has a few years.
“I’ve known some guys who went and played in European leagues, and that’s been in the back of my mind,” he said. “But I think right now I’m looking more to get an education than do that.”
Whatever hockey holds for him three years down the road, Walt cannot wait for August when the Junior Bulldogs mini-camp starts.
“I’m looking forward to the experience in general,” he said. “I’ve had friends tell me that you’re taking a couple classes, but it’s mostly hockey 24/7. That’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Nate Waggenspack can be reached at 970-875-1795 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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