Leaving his AAA travel hockey team of twelve years was a bittersweet experience for senior Neiman Ham, the new forward for the Division 1 hockey team. Ham played for the Junior Coyotes for most of his life, and now for his senior year, he has decided to play for his high school.

Travel hockey is an amazing experience and very beneficial to becoming a hockey player. “I feel the coaching he received growing up playing travel hockey has helped significantly in his development,” said Joe Dusbabek, the head coach for the varsity hockey team. 

Club is probably one of the best ways to receive training for hockey, but playing for your school is a completely different feeling. Representing your school, and wearing that jersey can be an amazing reality for people. It gives pride, and responsibility for who they are on and off the ice. 

Ham is a well-trained and versatile player who could play well on any team which shines through with how well he has been transitioning to high school hockey. “Neiman made a seamless transition to High School from Travel Club Hockey because he is a well rounded individual who has a passion for hockey and great rapport with the current players and myself as his coach,” Coach Dusbabek said. 

People come and go in highschool. That is the difference. Travel hockey forms a “brotherhood” with a team. In high school, hockey players, even if they play all four years, have to leave eventually. 

“We were a true brotherhood and we were together all the time,” Neiman Ham said about his teammates on the Junior Coyotes. Travel hockey tends to be much more of a commitment than high school hockey. If someone was looking to move onto a junior league like the USHL (United States Hockey League), he would want to play with a travel hockey team. 

AAA hockey usually provides more opportunities than high school mainly because of the teams they play and the places they go. As a traveling team, they would have more chances to be scouted and exemplify their skills in multiple areas. Travel hockey teams have more practices and longer ones and once a player gets to a high level, he could be traveling out of state twice a month. If a person does not wish to play hockey long term, then high school hockey would be more his style. 

Ham said, “I had to see where my heart was at and ultimately I decided to do high school, be a normal student, and pursue my other goals.”

 Now that he does high school, Ham feels that he is able to achieve and focus on other goals that he has planned for himself. Playing AAA long term usually points towards the NHL, so if he was not looking for that to be his career then high school was the best choice.

High school provides students with the ability to pursue other goals for their four years. In high school, many students focus on their sport and their academics. When a student can do a sport that goes through the school, it makes everything in his life that much easier. 

A player can get his school work done while still being able to put playing varsity on his resume, and the school is understanding of the team’s schedule. Whereas, playing for a travel hockey team can be difficult to correspond with everything especially if playing professional hockey is not a career goal.

Ham had not thought he would be playing for the NDP team at this time, but he ultimately made the decision that focusing on both sports and academics had the most beneficial for him.

Overall, the transition from travel hockey to high school hockey should be pretty seamless. However, it depends on the passion and skill of the player. Neiman Ham has had an almost effortless transition and it has worked out very well for him and his team. He gets to focus on his future goals and the team can push its way to State. As Coach Dusbabek said, “we will look to him and all of our Seniors to lead NDP Hockey to Victory.”