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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor

Injuries end hockey career

Spotlights flicker, illuminating players as they enter the rink. The crowd then stands to sing the National Anthem, ushering the game to begin.

The Fresno Junior Falcons prepare to face an opposing team throughout the Northern California Junior Hockey Association (NORCAL) league. For junior Brian Weskamp, a former Junior Falcons hockey player, this event occupied many of his years.

“Hockey was my life,” Weskamp said. “I started at age three with a field trip to the ice rink. I picked up skating right away, so ice hockey was the natural next step.”

Under mentoring from his great uncle, Weskamp progressed from a rookie to trying out for the Fresno Junior Falcons in fifth grade.

“My great uncle Bill greatly motivated and inspired me to get better,” Weskamp said. “When he found out I was learning, he took me to the rink and showed me all the tricks; he taught me everything I know about the game.”

In addition to playing for the Falcons, coached by Brandy Semchuck, who played for Team Canada and is a former NHL player, Brian became a member of the Fresno Junior Hockey Club (FJHC).

“I would practice so hard before he would visit so I could show him how I have improved,” Weskamp said. “His love and passion for the sport inspired me. Whenever we weren’t on the ice we were playing street hockey and he was always giving me advice.”

In Bruno Chu’s Dec. 19, 2007, article, Fresno Jr. Falcons a true underdog story, the FJHC “managed to produce some of the country’s best talent despite its humble beginnings”.

“I tried out for the Junior Falcons because I love hockey and by playing travel hockey, I could get way more ice time,” Weskamp said. “It’s more fun when you play at a higher level.”

Chu reports the FJHC consists of five teams and 140 players with a team at each division. “All five teams are traveling teams and compete in the Norcal division.” Although Weskamp believes the practices at Gateway Ice Center were strenuous, the conditioning paid off during game time.

“Brian played right wing,” Doug, his father, said. “He was one of the best passers on his team. He saw the field well and watched it develop.”

However, after suffering an injury in a championship game, Weskamp and his parents decided to abandon hockey to focus on one sport each season.

“In our last championship game, I collided with another player and ended up with a knee injury and broken ribs,” Weskamp said. “I finished the game, but it would be my last one. On top of playing football, recent concussions and my knee injury, my parents decided it was time to take a break and stick to one sport.”

His injury concerned his parents, his mom, Liana, did not want him to sacrifice football.

“He needed knee surgery and we weren’t sure how that would affect his hockey skills,” Liana said. “Football was going strong and he was getting concussions from hockey, so we decided it was time for him to not get hurt as often. Plus he liked playing with his friends at school and the bonding experience in football.”

Despite discontinuing the sport, Doug recognized the skills Brian developed while playing hockey and its benefits in other sports.

“He wasn’t afraid of contact,” Doug said. “There’s a lot of contact in hockey so he was used to getting hit and hitting. It’s a real physical sport. He was named ‘Defensive Back of the Year’ (in football) because he could take hits.”

Brian plays as the youngest in the Men’s Hockey League on occasion and may play hockey in college.

“He plays in the Men’s League off and on,” Liana said. “He hasn’t really mentioned playing hockey again except for the Men’s League, but he may play in college intramural hockey.”

With four of his former teammates (Kyle Bicksler, Steffan Buck, Neil Holder and Steven Foster) signed to play with the US Tier III Junior “A” team in the 2007-2008 season, Brain reflects his experience.

“I will always love the sport,” Brian said. “I wish I was still on the team. Hockey was a great experience for me and one I will never forget.”

For more information on hockey in the Valley, visit Madison Dooley’s Jan. 28, 2008, article, Fresno hockey fuels winter entertainment.

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