Lakers assist with younger team

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Lakers assist with younger team

Lindsey Wertenberger, Staff Writer

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  Local hockey team, the Unified Lakers, is a combination team of students from both Lakeview and Lakeshore. However, this is not the only unique thing about this team. In addition, some of the team members work with a younger team, called the Nordiques.

  The Lakers head coach, Nick Radjewski, has his high schoolers work with the younger team in hopes of benefiting both age groups. Radjewski has been coaching hockey for 17 seasons now and has worked with a variety of different ages including the high schoolers and the eight year olds that he currently coaches. This is his first season as a head coach with the Lakers. Along with coach Chad Hammer, the Lakers have been prepping for the season since last spring.

  At the beginning of this season,, the Nordiques had their head coach quit, which left the team without a leader. One of Radjewski’s friends with the St. Clair Shores Hockey Association contacted him in hopes of finding a coach for the team, before it became too late into the season.

  He and Hammer decided to pursue coaching the teams due to the fact that they have practices on the same days and this opportunity gives both coaches a chance to get themselves more involved with the association.

  Radjewski mentioned that there are several differences between the two teams due to the age difference.

   “The youngers are ten times harder,” he stated, “you wouldn’t think that, you know, but they don’t know anything and so a lot of the things you assume- like how do you hold your stick, how do you skate- they don’t know any of that. You have to break everything down, every mistake they make, and correct them.”

  Radjewski, regarding the older hockey players, mentioned, “I can come in and write eight drills down on the board and say this is what we are doing today, and I don’t have to blow the whistle once. They can handle it themselves.”

  However, that’s just on the ice. Off the ice, Radjewski believes the younger athletes are easier to manage, just based on what the older ones have going on in their lives outside of hockey.

  Having the Lakers help out with the Nordiques is something that benefits both teams and Radjewski. He included that a lot of his best friends now are guys that he played hockey with when he was growing up.

  “Everybody that coached me did it for free because they were there coaching their son or little brother, and I think it’s important to give back, because everybody who has coached our high school boys to this point has done it on a volunteer basis. It’s important for them to appreciate what has been given to them by giving back to the younger guys.”

  The Lakers players that are currently helping out with the Nordiques are Cameron Denbass and Ricky Schoenrock, who are both seniors here at Lakeview. Working with the Nordiques is a choice that Denbass and Schoenrock both made and is not a requirement for Lakers team members.

  Denbass mentioned that he chooses to help out with the younger team because not only does it give him a job, but he also benefits from it.

  “Not only am I helping the kids, but I’m also helping myself, because- the tools that I actually learn while coaching- I can apply it to myself while at practice and in games. Therefore, I can make myself a better hockey player. At the same time, I’ve always been passionate about working with kids.”

  He also mentioned that, with his specific position on the team as goalie, he is able to give more specific help to some of the younger players. As a goalie, players are not always the focus of a game, or practice, so having someone constantly watching you and coaching you can help players to work harder.

  Schoenrock also included how helping out benefits him as well. By teaching students the basics, it can help him to recognize the little things that he also does wrong.  

  He stated, “I choose to help out the Nordiques because helping younger players is important for their future, and I want to see them succeed later in their careers. I see myself as a kid in some of them.”

  Radjewski also noticed, “If you are good at something, you can teach it, and when you can teach it, then you realize what you don’t know. So for them, they learn from it and it’s giving back.”

  The hopes are that, once the current Nordiques are playing for the Lakers, when they get into highschool, they will realize the opportunities they had at a young age and will want to then do the same things for the younger players at that time.

  The Lakers have a game on Friday, Jan. 16, where the Nordiques will be playing a scrimmage at halftime. Students are always encouraged to come and show their support for the teams.

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