(Alexandria, MN) After a lot of fundraising, donations, hard work and prayer, the Northstar Sports Complex is up and running. You can smell fresh paint. A few doors are left to be completed, some wiring is in need of connection. Flooring and furniture are still coming. There are a lot of little details to tie up in the construction process before next weekend's opener, but the NCA Northstar Knights prep hockey team is ready for action now. The team hit the ice for the first time this week. The roster is comprised of 22 high school players from all over the country. Nine are Minnesotans, including Alexandria teens Jacob Stender and Truett Olson, but the rest come from nine other states ranging from Alaska to New Hampshire. The student athletes are enrolled at NorthStar Christian Academy this fall and have been taking online classes for several weeks before officially being in the Alexandria classroom this past Monday.
The team is led by Head Coach John Olver. A former hockey player himself, Olver has been coaching in some capacity since 1981. At his side on the bench will be retired NHL player Tim Jackman. Over his 14 years in the NHL Jackman played for six different teams after first being drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2001. Coack Jackman talks about this new opportunity, for himself and these young men. (AUDIO BELOW)
Rick Randazzo is perhaps the main reason for the academy's early emphasis on hockey. As the the national director for FCA Hockey, his presence here in Alexandria can be felt in all of the tremendous connections that have played a part in the new program and sports complex. He has a good feeling about the hockey program's future.
For the players, they are getting to slowly move into a more normal schedule as the hockey facilities get finished up. After some light skating on the new rink, the players traded their skates for tennis shoes and did some agility work on the fieldhouse's turf surface. Two of the players are Collin Soderholm from Monticello, Minnesota and Conner Kemp from Placentia, California. They talk about the experience of being a student athlete at the NorthStar Christian Academy and being one of the first Northstar Knights.
The Knights will have around 56 games on their schedule with the first game on the road versus Gentry Academy at Highland North Arena. The Knights first home game and the inaugural game at Aagard Arena at the Northstar Sports Complex will be on Sunday, September 30th.
The grand opening of the complex will be in mid-October.