Hockey Player Makes History

Claire Gelhaus

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Senior JJ Berdall has become the first D.C. Everest hockey player to play for a Division 1 team. Berdall has been skating as much as possible – a habit that started at only two years old which and has lead to his verbal commitment to Colorado College.

I played team Wisconsin for all four years of high school, and then two years before as just a tournament sort of thing, and [before that] I played the Stevens Point Flyers, a triple a team – for about six years,” Berdall said. “Whenever I could I’d just play summer hockey. My favorite summer camp – Next Level in Eagle River – I’ve been there eight years now, and now I coach it a few of the weeks in the summer.”

Coach Havelin of the Colorado Tigers approached Berdall after a Team Wisconsin game late September 2017, where Havelin complimented a very shocked Berdall and offered him a campus tour.

“I’m usually one of the first ones out of the locker room and my mom asked one of my teammates where I was. She was surprised, I’ve never talked to a coach so she didn’t say anything until I got into the car. I told her, ‘A coach from Colorado College was just talking to me,’ and she’s like, ‘No way, you’re kidding,’ said Berdall. “Later when we got home, I talked to my dad and told him what happened and he started crying, because this is my dream to play D1 and it was just so surreal. I honestly don’t remember everything that the coach said because I was just so stunned.”

Berdall hopes to study business, but first he’ll play two years of Juniors hockey before signing to Colorado College’s hockey team officially.

“I called the coach, said, ‘I’d like to commit to Colorado College,’ and then he’s like, ‘Okay. Done deal.’ It’s different with hockey. Right now it’s just a verbal commitment, because once you sign the intent to play. you’re good for one year after you sign. I plan on playing Juniors for two years, and then the second year of Kuniors I’ll sign on to Colorado College,” said Berdall.

Even though Berdall plans to improve during Juniors hockey, this year he has started preparations.

“If anybody watched me the past seasons, I had a lot of penalties, averaging two a game, but this year I’m doing really good on that. All I’ve gotta do is keep on getting bigger. I’m a small defenseman, so I’m going to get muscle, a better vision of the ice, and limit my turnovers that [Assistant Coach Michael] Hanke and [Junior Varsity Coach Collin] Helke are helping me do right now,” said Berdall.

For two years of only focusing on hockey, it is possible to lose track of school and miss family, but Berdall is excited.

“It’s going to be a challenge, but my family is so supportive of me, so I think everything’s going to fit right in. It’s going to be a little nerve racking at first I think, going all the way over there, and then especially next year I’ll be somewhere— I don’t know yet— playing and all I’ll focus on is hockey for two years, but it’s going to be a fun ride,” said Berdall.  

Berdall plans to return when possible to watch Everest games, and maybe even join players on the ice during practice, especially because Berdall was always loyal to the Evergreens.

“It’s eye opening, a lot of my friends from my youth went over and went to West obviously, there’s like seven kids last year who went to West, but like staying at your hometown really shows everybody loyalty. I hope we can do something good this year. We have a really good team, and with Michael Janke in net, I think we can pull off something that’s never been done in Everest hockey. It’ll be fun to see what happens,” said Berdall.

Sophomore Davis Hackbarth skates into the huddle after the team scored.

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Hockey Player Makes History