What’s up LHSHL Family!
This week we have Mitchell senior, Zach Hendle. So far this season Zach has 4 goals and 5 assists. He and the Mitchell Mustangs sit in second place in the Bradley Division. If you haven’t heard Zach’s name before it’s probably because you haven’t been keeping up with #CheckYourself. Zach and his teammate, Trevor Portzen, volunteered one weekend at Green Key Park over at the beach. There is much more to life than hockey. Doing great on the ice is one thing. Doing things to make your community better is better!
“I was born in Florida moved away to Oklahoma, moved to Texas, and moved back all within the past decade. I lived here (Tampa) until I was 8 years old. I started playing roller around age 5 and from there learned to skate at Tampa Bay Skating Academy. When I turned 8, we packed our bags and set course for the west. I had a great experience out there. That’s where I became the hockey player I am today. I played for one of the only travel teams in the state of Oklahoma. I did really well. Got myself scouted by Dallas Stars Elite, that’s when I moved to Texas. I billeted there. I went to Southlake Carrol High School.
After playing competitively in three different states now, one thing I noticed after coming back to Florida is that every state is different. In Texas and Oklahoma, the focus was physicality whereas, in Florida, it’s all about finesse and skill. You can’t play physical in Florida; you get the whistle blown on you every time. There’s obviously pros and cons with everything in life including high school hockey but when my team made it to nationals, we were ready to compete with the likes of Santa Margarita and Edina HS because of how physical we played. It was actually pretty cool playing Santa Margarita Teemu Selanne’s son was on the team and he was in the stands! So, I can say for the rest of my life, a Hall of Fame Hockey player watched me play a game.”
Pause – folks, if you’ve never heard of that high school, look it up. That school is a breeding ground for athletes. SLCHS is in contention for national championships in just about every sport. Their football games get aired on ESPN it’s kind of wild.
Zach wears #71 for the Mitchell Mustangs but that wasn’t always the case and it’s actually a pretty touch story. “I currently wear #71 but growing up, my neighbor, who introduced me to hockey and put a stick in my hand for the first time because he was always playing outside wore number #11. He’s the reason why I started playing the game. He tragically passed a way not too long ago and I just wanted to find a way to symbolically, say thank you for introducing me to the game that I love so much.”
Now we know Zach the hockey player. But what’s more important, is the person in real life. “I go to Mitchell High School. My grades are actually pretty good. Right now, I’m preparing for the ACT. I’m looking at schools like UCF, FGCU, and USF. I would love to continue playing hockey after this year and to be honest, I would love for hockey to pay for my education. I’ve been contacted by some teams back in Texas. It’s a big decision to make so I’m not taking this lightly. This isn’t like going to the store and picking out groceries to take home. For now, I’m focusing on my studies/finishing high school strong and when the time comes to decide, I’ll be prepared. On the Brightside, I do know what I want to study! I’m very interested in forensics and criminology. Ideally the DEA. I find that field to be fascinating. I had a neighbor back in Oklahoma who was a sergeant in the DEA, and he would tell me about the types of things he would do day-to-day and gave me insight on the path if I were to choose to go down that road.”
Folks, I try to make these more than hockey but when the senior just loves the game, my hands are tied hahaha. “In my free time, I like working out, staying in shape or being outside with my friends. I enjoy being out on the water whether it’s fishing for grouper in the gulf or surfing on the beach but to be completely honest, I just love being at the rink. I love the atmosphere of it. The game has given me so much and I feel at home when I’m there. Something I’d like to get back into down the line is coaching. I helped a mite’s team out not too long ago and it was a great feeling being able to teach the game to others and help grow it at the same time.”
Zach is a good hockey player and a great kid. He takes pride in leading his team in his senior year but is involved in the community as well. We will miss him next year but we’re confident he will be successful at whatever he decides to do!