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South Valley Journal

Mustang hockey optimistic about the future

May 07, 2018 01:27PM ● By Greg James

The Herriman varsity hockey varsity team and its board members have organized a solid base for the program to continue to prosper. (Photo courtesy Ryan Nelson)

By Greg James |  [email protected]         

The foundation for a successful hockey program has been set for a team considered still in its infancy.

Herriman hockey President Ryan Nelson set out seven years ago to establish a team where his sons could represent their high school and play the game they love.

“I started Herriman hockey when my son was in eighth grade,” Nelson said. “I played high school sports, and I knew what it meant to represent my school, so I found a bunch of kids that lived in Herriman and played hockey that wanted the same thing. We formed our own team. Long term, I wanted to build a foundation to keep this going.”

The Mustangs are built slightly differently than other teams in the area. A board of dedicated parents maintains the administrative part of the organization and leads the team. As president, Nelson organized each board member’s responsibilities, including advertising, finance, rules and state liaison.

The program has grown to four teams and 66 players. This summer, the Mustangs have seventh-grade, eighth-grade, junior varsity and varsity teams. In most years, the number of summer players decreases.

The organization structure has allowed the players to receive coaching with similar styles long before they reach the varsity level. Nelson said this would cultivate the team’s playing style and foster success.

Brandon Wright recently stepped down as board vice-president (his son is graduating)[JM1] . He had been with the program for four years coaching and helping with sponsorships for the team. Jeremy Weiss has been introduced to take his place.

Weiss grew up in Toronto, Canada, and played junior hockey in Canada. He eventually played and coached at BYU and is a certified USA master coach (highest coaching level in USA hockey). He also runs a full-service hockey development school, Weiss Tech Hockey. 

“I have used his training techniques, and I found out he (Weiss) lives in Herriman,” Nelson said. “We (the hockey board members) wanted someone that wants this to succeed as much as we did. That is an advantage to us. He will be able to take over our coaching and player development. The younger teams will all learn the same systems.”

The administration of a high school hockey program can build a base for the team to be successful. The board makes decisions on coaching staff and helps it maintain a consistent level.

“With hockey, that is one of the difficulties to maintaining consistency across the board,” Nelson said. “Coaches come and go, and you never know what we will get.”

The team won three games last season, beating Alta twice and Sky Canyon once, but Nelson said they played competitively in several games.

“It was an honestly a rough season,” he said. “Our program has been growing each year. We have been in division one, which is the top level high school league. It is an honor to be thought of as a good program, but we are still a new program. So, we struggled to win games sometimes, but we played several close games against some of the best teams in the state.”

The Mustangs won the division 2 state championship in 2016.

Team members had to rally around one another, as they faced off-ice issues. Two of the team’s players passed away unexpectedly this spring.

“We have had to take things a day at a time,” Nelson said. “The kids have really come together and talked with each other. We have had counselors and talked about getting help. We do not understand why things happened the way they did, but we love these boys and want them to come together as a team. We want us to stay together and work through all of this.”


 [JM1]Is this essential to the story?