Monday, July 16, 2007


I usually try not to write much about my son Jake. Mostly to save him from any embarrassing remarks that sometimes we as parents seem to do. Although I admit sometimes I suffer from PPS (Proud Papa Syndrome), when it comes to Jake’s game I tend to stay on the objective side (he would be the first to agree with that). Over my lifetime I have watched many kids develop their game as they march up the ranks. On the ice I view Jake as just another one of those kids. After practices and games he is indeed my son, but when he is on the ice he is subject to the same standards and critique I hold for everyone. With that said, I would like to introduce Jacob Hill. Jake was born during the playoffs in 1993 in California. He arrived just in time to see the Canadiens defeat the Kings in the final (well, okay so he slept through most of it, but he was in front of the set). A year later we both watched Messier end the 54-year drought for the Rangers and the love affair with the game began. That summer we relocated to Massachusetts so he could grow up in the same area as I did and be around more family. Fast-forwarding through his pre-teen years, at 12 years old he landed on a peewee team from nearby Amherst. In his first year with Amherst, he was named team captain for their tournament, won an award for showing leadership on and off the ice and his team went to the championship game in their league. Although they lost in a shootout, it was one of the best games of youth hockey I had ever witnessed. Jake had a great season under a great coach, who referred to Jake as “Exactly what this association and the game of hockey is all about.” He still views that season that he coached Jake as his proudest ever as a coach. Last season at 13, he made the jump to the bantam level where he faced some adversity (the team only won a handful of games and never really gelled as a team), but he still managed to put together a good season personally finishing second on the team in scoring while playing all three forward positions. Out of necessity, his defensive game tightened up and he became one of the better two-way players on the team. This actually fit in well for Jake, because he takes pride in his two-way game. He isn’t the type of kid who feels he needs to be the star of the team. He is just as happy preventing a goal or getting an assist as he is scoring a goal. He plays a sound positional game and has remarkable vision on the ice. He loves to make the smart play and will take a hit to make sure the play happens. This spring and summer he has been working hard to improve on a few areas of his game to be ready for next season. He is hoping to make the top bantam team in his league and try out for his high school varsity squad. Now 14 years old (5’9 – 150lbs.) he hopes his work ethic, leadership, playmaking ability, speed, size, smarts, vision and shot (well over 60 mph.) will bring him to the next level. In school, he maintains an A average while taking challenging courses (a condition per my order for him to continue to play) as he already understands how important a role education plays in a hockey players future. He still has a few rough edges to his game that he needs to work on, like shooting more (as he tends to look for making the perfect pass) and being more aggressive (as he doesn’t like to take penalties). He has been working on those aspects and has made strides to correct them. He has good hands down low around and in front of the net, he’s tough to move when he parks in front of the net and scores most of his goals from there. After this upcoming season he plans to try out for the NTDP (National Training and Development Program) as he has a dream of one day playing on a U.S. National team and wants to see where he stands. I’m not sure he is quite ready for that yet, but I admire his drive and dedication. Who knows, with the way he is working (and growing) by the end of the next season he might just be at that point. As a Father I will do what ever it takes to help him as he tries to realize his dream and he knows it. I am proud of all Jake has accomplished so far as each year he challenges himself in all aspects of his life. He is a humble kid who is mature beyond his years and is turning into a heck of a hockey player each and every year, I couldn’t ask for more.

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