*Article courtesy of American Canyon (CA) Eagle*
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American Canyon Resident Webber Ready to be a Jackalope
By Vince D'Adamo
Most people who think of hockey enthusiasts might not lump Northern Californians like American Canyon resident Ryan Webber into that category.
Keep in mind that, in the United States, hockey is woven much more heavily into the culture in, say, places like Detroit, Philadelphia or Boston. Webber, however, is ready to branch off beyond his American Canyon circle to pursue his hockey dream at a higher level. Webber, who is entering his senior year at Justin-Siena High, has been selected to play for the Odessa Jackalopes.
The franchise played as the Owatonna Express, based in Owatonna, Minn., in the Central Division for three seasons from 2008 to 2011, when the team was sold to the Odessa Jackalopes. A previous minor professional hockey franchise known as the Odessa Jackalopes played in the Central Hockey League from 1997 to 2011.
Webber and his family moved to American Canyon in 2004 from Morgan Hill, which is located near San Jose.
Webber started skating at age 3 and began playing hockey competitively at age 5. So how does a Northern California youngster get lured into hockey, so much so that it becomes his primary passion?
“When we lived in Morgan Hill, we had season tickets to the (San Jose) Sharks games,” Webber said. “My dad (Scott) would always take me to games. I remember one game, I said, ‘I want to do that.’ So they signed me up for lessons and I became fond of it.”
Webber went on to play for the San Jose Junior Sharks. He is set to report to training camp with the Jackalopes on Aug. 22. The regular season begins in September and could go as late as mid-May, depending on how deep into the postseason the team goes. Webber has spent the last three seasons playing baseball for Justin.
What Webber does to finish up his senior year of high school academically is another matter. He is hoping to have Justin set up an independent-study program. If that scenario does not fall into place, however, Webber would attend a public high school of choice in Odessa. Either way, he would stay with a family living in Odessa that is willing to house him.
Webber plays forward and has grown to enjoy the speed and physical nature of the sport.
“I have a lot of speed and strength that I use,” Webber said. “The physical part is my favorite, aside from putting pucks in the net. It’s unreal how physical the game can get. It is unlike any other sport. You are going at such high speeds and banging bodies.”
Webber also competed in lacrosse during his seventh- and eighth-grade years. Justin fielded lacrosse for the first time in school history last spring. However, the sport conflicted with the Braves’ baseball season.
“I was going to (play lacrosse), but this year they only had a JV team,” Webber said. “Since I have played varsity baseball since my freshman year, I did not want to go down and not play a varsity sport. There was a temptation at the beginning, but then I realized it wouldn’t be worth it.”
Webber added that lacrosse and hockey have some similarities, but not as many as one might imagine.
“The physical part is similar as well as the mental part,” Webber said. “In lacrosse, you can slow the game down easily by yourself. You have more time to think of what you are going to do. But other than that, there is no carryover.”