Story and photo by Hannah Nguyen
Most people who follow Raider basketball would know this big name who has played almost 100 games since he was an eight-grader: Nelson Etuk ‘20. “Nelson have done an awesome job this year - one of the most talented kids I have coached,” said Head Coach Taylor Shannon. “His sophomore and junior years he continued to grow as a player, but this year, he stepped up defensively: rebounded the ball really well and scored when needed it, which is a plus.” In his last season as a high school player, Etuk scored 9.6 points and rebounded 4.6 per game. “Nelson is a senior on the team so everyone in the team look up to him as a leader,” Grayson Bloomfield said. “He is the most athletic person on the team, so we all love playing with him.”
By Hannah Nguyen
Led by head coach Dr. Paul Haskins, North Cross’s ice hockey team made its way to Pittsburgh, PA for their first tournament and won the Three Rivers Cup tournament in their first season ever.
The team spent months of training at Lancerlot Sports Complex in Vinton with coach Haskins, who teamed up with assistant coach Dr. Damon Kuehl and Roanoke Junior Rail Yard Dawgs U16 travel team head coach Steve Esworthy as the remaining assistant coach.
Besides adding interested students from area high school including Roanoke Catholic, Salem High School, Lord Botetourt, Patrick Henry, Cave Spring, and Northside, our school has four players: Lennon Kuehl ‘23, Jackson Haskins ‘22, Zane Ratliff ‘22, and Maddox Haskins ‘24.
These players have been playing ice hockey since their very young age.
Coach Christopher Pollock, our school Assistant Athletic Director, shared: “The team is made up of travel players from the Roanoke Valley. These guys have played for years together and now they play for our High School as a club team.”
The team’s successful tournament started when they defeated the Miami of Ohio Red Hawks team 12-3 in their first tier of tournament play. The next Sunday they defeated Chatterton High School, 9-0. On Monday afternoon, the team, which is composed mostly of U16 players, would be pitted against the Pittsburgh Vipers U18 team, the team that the Raiders had defeated 3-2 earlier that day for the finals. After the first two periods passed scoreless, the North Cross team scored 5 goals in the last period to take the win and the cup.
“It feels great to win a tournament first year as a team!”, Jackson Haskins ‘21 said with excitement.
“Playing ice hockey helps me with my condition and balance,” Haskins said. He has been playing ice hockey since he was 4. “My dad got me into ice hockey at a young age. He taught me how to skate and inspired me to play hockey,” he said.
When being asked what he likes about ice hockey, Lennon Kuehl ‘23, who has also been playing ice hockey for nine years, said, “Hockey has made me a much better athlete. It’s affected all aspects of my life.”
Kuehl, who plays goalie, also expressed that ice hockey is an extremely mental and physical sport. “It’s very active. There is never a time I don’t want to be skating,” Kuehl commented.
Zane Ratliff ‘22, who started playing ice hockey when he was 3, looks forward to next year as a year that they can improve as a team, possibly play more tournaments and build the history of North Cross’s ice hockey.
“Our plan for next season is,” Coach Pollock said, “to continue to play in tournaments and possibly play against other high schools from Virginia and Washington, DC.”