by ALEXANDRA RETTER
When the Cotter boys hockey team scored its first goal this season, sophomore team member Wesylee Kohner recognized how momentous that point was for the school.
This year marks the first time Cotter Schools has had its own boys hockey team in over four decades. Previously, Cotter students played on a co-op team with students from other schools.
A coach, several parents and Kohner agreed that Cotter having its own team contributes to people’s pride in the school. “As a school and as a high school, it’s always exciting to have your own identity and work on your school spirit,” Coach Martin Raymond said.
Players appreciate being able to show their school pride by wearing jerseys with the Cotter name, parents Mike Slaggie and Summer Kohner said. “He says it’s been really fun to put on the Cotter jersey and to be able to represent his school in a sport that he loves and is really part of his passion,” Kohner said of her son.
She added that she has enjoyed watching the team develop from the ground up and start a new legacy for Cotter.
In addition to creating school pride, team members have fostered friendships. The students on the team have formed a supportive, tight-knit group, Raymond, Slaggie and Summer Kohner said. “He fits in really well,” Summer said of her son. “He’s happy.”
The players know one another’s strengths and weaknesses and help one another out as they play, she said.
Wesylee said he has appreciated “just hanging out with the team and making memories,” adding that the smaller team has allowed him to interact with all his teammates easily.
The coaches have also contributed to the team’s positive environment. They have guided the players’ growth well while managing the challenge of developing a team during a pandemic, Slaggie and Kohner said. “The coaches, I think, have really helped take him to the next level, in terms of realizing his potential and hard work and dedication,” Slaggie said of his son, a freshman on the team. The coaches have put effort into understanding each player’s skills, Kohner said, so no player feels left out.
This season, the team’s 10 players focused on practicing and building their skills in preparation for becoming a varsity team next year, Raymond said. The players are freshmen and sophomores, for the most part. “This year, we are starting to embrace an identity and start a culture … It’s more a culture of work ethic,” he said. “So then, it’s a process. If we work hard and work at our skills and at our hockey IQ and all sorts of different aspects of the game, we will improve.” Wesylee said he hopes the team continues to grow and has a chance to compete at the state level someday.