Jackson Hole Youth Hockey player Kole Morris is leaving the valley to pursue his hockey career at an elite level.
This year he accepted a six-month contract to play with the Colorado Springs Tigers 15U team in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
In recent years Kole has played on Team Wyoming, an all-star AA team that draws from the best hockey players in the state. The Colorado Springs Tigers are a AAA team, meaning the competition will be even tougher.
“It’s a much faster pace, and the level is so much higher,” Morris said of his new team. “It’s also so much fun.”
Morris was recruited while competing in Minnesota with Team Northwest, a AAA summer team he has played with for the past four seasons.
After the coach of the Tigers saw Morris play, the team offered him a spot for one season. He will stay with a host family in Colorado Springs and attend school there, fitting his academics around a rigorous training schedule through a combination of regular high school and online classes.
David Ellingson, executive director of Jackson Hole Youth Hockey, used to coach Morris. He said the 15-year-old will be able to handle the workload.
“Kole has always been dedicated,” Ellingson said. “He was always the first one on the ice and the last one off. He would skate whenever he got the chance.”
Ellingson said Morris’ achievement is magnified when considering who he’s up against: athletes from hockey academies that have more resources and ice time at their disposal.
“It’s not an easy thing to do what Kole has, coming out of a little team like Jackson Hole Youth Hockey,” Ellingson said. “He’s sacrificed a lot.”
Playing for his new team in Colorado will force Morris to sacrifice even more. Aside from holidays, he won’t see his friends or family for the next half year.
“I’ll miss them a ton,” Morris said. “But I have to keep pushing myself and improving.”
After he graduates, Morris hopes to earn a hockey scholarship and play at an NCAA Division One college.
“We all wish the best for Kole,” Ellingson said. “It’s really cool to see him going for his dream.”
Tag(s): 15U AAA