For Christian “C.J.” Stucky, many of the weekends from September through March are spent traveling to various locations around Washington, British Columbia and the midwest as a member of the Everett Jr. Silvertips 18-under hockey team.
During the weekends when he’s not on the road, he still finds himself holed up at Angel of the Winds Arena, helping his dad keep the WHL’s Silvertips well-equipped and looking sharp, just as he has the majority of his life.
Indeed, as the son of longtime Everett Silvertips equipment manager James Stucky, C.J. Stucky is the living definition of what it means to grow up Silvertip.
C.J. Stucky, a 17-year-old junior at Everett High School who takes Running Start classes at Everett Community College, is a center on the Jr. Silvertips 18U team. This season he has three goals and four assists in 16 North American Prospect Hockey League games.
“I’m pretty happy with my season,” C.J. Stucky said. “I like my play in the defensive zone, I take pride in that and I’m happy with how that’s been this year. Offensively I could be better, but I’m happy with that, too.”
And it seems inevitable that someone who’s spent his entire life around the Silvertips organization would one day be playing for the Jr. Silvertips at their highest level.
C.J. Stucky was six months old when James Stucky was hired to be the Silvertips’ equipment manager prior to the team’s inaugural season in 2003. Therefore, much of his life has played out at the rink, where he’s been a constant presence.
“Oh my gosh, when he was young it was kind of like Saturday mornings were our thing,” James Stucky recalled. “He’d come with me to the rink, and once he got to about 4 or 5 he’d have a cut-down hockey stick and a little street hockey puck and be doing something related to playing hockey.”
Being around the rink that much meant C.J. Stucky had plenty of interaction with the Silvertips’ players, whether it was fooling around outside the locker room or even jumping onto the ice in full gear after practices ended.
“I remember Kyle Beach, when C.J. was 5 or 6, would just pass pucks with after practice, seemingly for hours,” James Stucky said.
Indeed, rough housing with C.J. Stucky eventually came back to haunt Beach.
“At the first Tips alumni golf tournament I gave Kyle Beach a black eye from punching him,” admitted C.J. Stucky, who still stays in touch with past Silvertips players like Orrin Centazzo, Riley Sutter and Noah Juulsen. “When he was with the team we’d always have fun and joke around, and I guess we pushed things a little too far.
“But he can take it,” C.J. Stucky quipped about the former Silvertips tough guy.
During this time C.J. Stucky also progressed as a hockey player, getting pointers from former Silvertips assistant coaches like Jay Varady and Mark LeRose. Watching the Silvertips also helped him pick up the nuances of the sport at a young age. He was one of a handful of area players invited to attend the WHL’s U.S. Prospects Camp following his 14-year-old season, and every year since he’s been invited to Silvertips training camp — though he’s never taken part because of the familiarity.
“Growing up as involved as I was, I never really wanted to be a Silvertip in the WHL, that was never my goal,” C.J. Stucky said. “I kind of wanted to go away and live a little, if that makes sense. But playing for the 18U team is really nice. The rink is so good, we have our own (locker) room, and you have the community, too. My friends and the school know the team, and it’s a different vibe from school sports.”
And this season C.J. Stucky got his chance with another WHL organization, as last August he was invited to training camp with the Portland Winterhawks. Though he didn’t make the team or get placed on Portland’s protected list, he acquitted himself well by producing points in scrimmages with and against players he’s watched play against the Silvertips.
“I felt it was good for me because it gave me a fresh look at a different organization,” C.J. Stucky said. “I’ve been around Everett all my life, so I got to see Portland and how they run things, what their facilities are like.”
It hasn’t all been just about hockey for C.J. Stucky. He grew up going to the golf course with his dad and played for the Everett High School golf team the past two years. He played for North Everett Little League before entering high school, and he plans on switching from golf to baseball for the Seagulls this spring.
But being around his dad means C.J. Stucky has been exposed to the background side of sports, too. From the time he was old enough to gather pucks he was put to work by his dad, doing stick-boy duties like folding towels and filling up water bottles. The older he got, the more duties he was given. Today, when he’s not away playing, he can be found sharpening skates, sewing up holes in jerseys and doing laundry for the Silvertips.
“I love doing it,” C.J. Stucky said. “I definitely have the equipment-manager bug, as my dad would say. It’s never been a chore. I don’t know how to explain it. It’s waking up early, being tired, being at the rink all day, that’s my weekend well spent.”
It’s gotten to the point where C.J. Stucky dreams as much about following in his father’s footsteps as he does being a player.
“At this point, I’m not overly sure,” C.J. Stucky says about his future. “I’d like to see what the rest of this year brings (as a player). We’ll see what the future holds, but I’d definitely like to be an equipment manager in my younger days, maybe do that for a couple years at least.”
That’s something a father can take pride in.
“From my standpoint, I think he’s doing great in hockey, I think he’s doing great in life, he’s doing great at school,” James Stucky said. “He’s got a bright future in front of him and I think a lot of that comes from the structure of playing a team game and the discipline from being involved with an elite team. I think he’s doing fantastic.”
And that, at least in some small part, is the result of growing up Silvertip.
If you have an idea for a community sports story, email Nick Patterson at firstname.lastname@example.org.