It's spring and that means it's time to try out baseball.
I would love to continue to play hockey at the Everett Comcast Ice Rink. It is definitely one of those sports I may take up full-time in my later life. And if I decide to pursue it, I have no doubt that hockey in Everett will still be here. Heck, the way this program at Comcast is run, it will be here for years and years to come.
Before I hang up my skates and put on the glove, let's look at why hockey is here to stay in the Everett community.
It all boils down to one guy: Renny Huot. Huot, 50, the founder of the adult program has developed quite the reputation in the past eight years for taking absolute newbies like me and giving them the skills needed to eventually join the Greater Seattle Hockey League.
But Renny Huot confesses that this really isn't just about hockey.
"I'm not teaching hockey; I'm building community," Huot suggests. And by the way things are going for this downtown Everett gem, it's easy to see he is succeeding in his mission.
Huot's influence is far-reaching in the local community. Under his guidance, a number of guys have formed a couple of Everett area teams and joined the GSHL. After a few sessions at the Comcast Arena, it shouldn't surprise anyone who makes it out there that they are prepared for the next level.
Renny and now his son, Rylan, have one of the best systems for developing hockey players, young and old, that one can find in the area.
Their hockey legacy began somewhat innocently in Everett. After spending his youth in southern California and becoming a good enough hockey player that he started getting his hockey paid for -- along with plenty of post-game beverage in his beer league -- Renny Huot travelled north to the Puget Sound in 1994.
Then when Huot and his 8-year-old son, Rylan, were on the new ice in Everett a little over 10 years ago, one thing led to another and Renny was talked into joining the fledgling Everett Youth Hockey Club's board of directors.
And the rest is Comcast Ice Rink history.
Soon Renny was elevated to various leadership and coaching roles that kept him and his family extremely busy.
One of the side-benefits for all of his time and energy is that he has two tremendous kids who enjoy being on the ice. His son, Rylan, is often placed in charge of the adult hockey classes when dad is called to duty at Silvertips games where the senior Huot is a Silvertip employee.
What's uncanny is how similar Rylan's delivery of the message during drills and the scrimmage is like his dad's. Truly, the apple doesn't all far from the tree. In fact, Renny Huot admits to looking down at the adult practice from above during Tips games and seeing the situation and the gestures of Rylan and knowing exactly what Rylan was impressing upon the hockey adults, imitating his father in every manner.
As the director of player development for the Everett Youth Hockey Club, Renny Huot has influenced more players than one can count over the course of ten years. A handful of my neighbor kids have learned to skate under Renny's dynamic direction.
And if you know Huot's teaching style, it should come as no surprise that a couple of them pursued youth hockey as far as they possibly could, in large part because their initial exposure to the sport was so positive. There are many parents and adult players who owe a debt of gratitude to Renny Huot for all of the time and energy he has put in to making the Comcast Ice Rink a special place for people of all ages to hockey.
Something tells me that the slow pace of the baseball diamond won't completely replace the thrill of being on the ice. The pace, the split second decisions, the potential risk of landing on one's stomach or back with a slip on the ice, as well as the emotional highs of putting one in the back of the net probably won't be duplicated on the diamond.
But my "research" takes me elsewhere.
Perhaps, by October, I'll be salivating to get back on the ice with the senior Huot (kid Huot is off to college this coming fall), even if he will give a rash of grief about my lack of skill on skates.
That's a style that has worked so well at the Comcast Ice Rink for so many years. Let's keep the formula for success going.
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