Wearing number 3 in honor of his cousin who passed away from Dipg, a form of brain cancer, George Jenkins has found themselves with a defender that sees himself as part of the bigger equation. Richie Sweeney had a full course load of honors classes this past year at Santa Fe Catholic School in Lakeland and was also a contributing member to George Jenkins, U16 Gulf Coast Flames, and the U16 Underclassmen Elite Development Team. He knows how to manage his work and be there when people rely on him, and managed to show this in the LHSHL's biggest game this past season by opening scoring in the second period of the Lightning Cup to keep Jenkins in it versus Seminole.
Richie started off playing hockey when he was five years old. At the time, the closest ice rink was the Brandon Ice Sports Forum, so Richie joined the Junior Bulls organization on their mite development team. He stuck with the organization until he was old enough to play bantam during which he decided to make the transition to playing for Kuba and the Scorpions team. I asked him what his style of play was like after playing for a few different teams and organizations, "Honestly I think my style of play is similar to my approach for the locker room. I believe my positivity towards other teams and any shift is what separates me from other players." Continuing this thought in its application towards the LHSHL, Richie shared "The LHSHL is very competitive. I’ve never faced a team that was “easy” to go up against. All the games have been a challenge and it has been very fun. The players that I play with and against are very good and hardworking. My team is very positive and fun to be around. We are all connected and always try and spread happiness around the locker room." The vibes were positive this year without a doubt as Richie played 18 regular season games for the 2019-2020 LHSHL Eastern Conference Champions before skating in all three playoff games for the George Jenkins Eagles and putting up an assist and a goal towards their playoff journey. Going into the upcoming season as likely a leader in the locker room and on the ice for Jenkins, Richie already knows what advice he's giving upcoming freshmen from day one, "Try your best and keep your head up no matter what."
Richie made the underclassmen EDP team this past season to continue his journey under retired NHL players and experience showcase tournaments up north. Playing EDP, for Jenkins, and Flames means he has a likely chance at ice time every day of the week. I asked him if he had anytime to do other things or hobbies, "I used to play baseball and soccer as well but for now I'm just focusing on school and hockey. My goals for the rest of high school are to make good grades and get into a good college, while still having hockey to inspire me. My dream job is either to be an orthodontist or a dentist. After college, I would like to start a good family and support them. Hopefully hockey will continue to give me and lead me to happiness on the journey."
"I am thankful for my teammates, coaches, opponents, and most of all family who support me all the time. By the time I finish high school I would like to be in a position where I don’t regret what I have done, and I would have hoped to have changed at least one person's life from this article or in life. My teams, parents, and coaches are all helping me get their and I'm thankful for them as well as my siblings."
Richie is an incredible hockey player to watch and it's a joy to see him succeed early in his high school career knowing the effort he puts into everything he does. I can't wait to see what he accomplishes in the next three years.