WENATCHEE WILD HOCKEY – “The Tip of the Iceberg”
It’s a relatively well-known fact that only a small percentage of an iceberg is visible while 80 – 90% of it is submerged but nonetheless remains responsible for its buoyancy. For the Wenatchee Wild, the organization shares this characteristic. The BCHL franchise that people see playing games at Town Toyota Center is the just the tip of a hockey iceberg here in the Wenatchee Valley. Though icebergs tend to melt over time, this one is actually growing while becoming more stable and secure.
With the Wenatchee Wild set to embark on their twelfth season, a good majority of people in the area are at the very least aware of the team’s existence. A smaller subset of people may be aware that there is youth hockey in the area, run by the Wenatchee Amateur Hockey Association (WAHA). Beyond that lies the core of the program, with four development teams that strive to help players grow their games to the next level and prepare them to advance in the sport they love.
The four Tier I development teams are tailored to their specific age groups. The longest tenured of the group is the U18 Wenatchee Wolves. They are followed by the U16 Wenatchee Wilderness, and both of these clubs are full-time, academy style teams where the players live with host families (called “billets”) during the season. The U14 Wenatchee Wolverines have been joined this season by the brand new U15 Wenatchee Warriors program. Both the U14 and U15 clubs are “weekend-only” teams, with the players living at home and attending their local schools. Another recent development is the addition of two teams playing in the JSHL Spring League, bringing even greater opportunities for the players.
The strength of the Wild’s development program lies in the coaching, with five full-time paid coaches on staff. The program is headed by former NCAA hockey coach Ryan McKelvie whose extensive résumé and experience make him an invaluable resource. Marcus Baxter, Kyle Brodie, and David Mead have all played junior and college level hockey. Jordan McTaggart also has junior hockey playing and head coaching experience.
The fact that these Tier I development teams all operate under the umbrella of the BCHL’s Wenatchee Wild adds even greater strength and resources. There exists a sense of continuity that binds all these programs together. Many players see their careers advance as a result of their time in Wenatchee, and that’s ultimately what these programs are all about.
Not everyone can see the majority of the iceberg that comprises the hockey scene here in north central Washington, but the visible top is anchored to a solid base that ensures the game is healthy and continuing to grow.
For more information on the Wild development teams, please visit http://wenatcheewilddevelopmentteams.com/