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La Vernia family learns life lessons ...on the ice

La Vernia family learns life lessons  ...on the ice
COURTESY/Adam McKnight Ethan and JaXon McKnight, transplants to La Vernia from Wyoming, continue to pursue their passion for ice hockey with the San Antonio Jr. Rampage program.

There is no denying hockey’s wide appeal. A global sport, it is contested every four years at the Winter Olympics, has multiple professional leagues across North America, and is arguably the most popular sport in the northern states not to mention Canada.

But, did you know right here in La Vernia, the sport has taken root? Albeit on a small scale right now, but if Adam McKnight and his sons Ethan and JaXon have their say, it could become even bigger.

Originally from Kentucky, McKnight who works in the oil and gas industry and his family are new residents of La Vernia, having moved last summer from Wyoming, and they brought their love of all things hockey with them.

“We got into hockey while living in Wyoming,” he explained. “They have what you call junior teams there and families house the players during the season. We started housing players and they gave us season tickets in return. When our kids saw hockey the first time, they thought it was really cool and something they wanted to do.”

Ethan began playing in 2012 and from that point on, the McKnights have never looked back. Two seasons in, Adam wanted to be more involved with his sons and began coaching their teams. Never having played the sport, his learning curve was immensely steep and fast. He got into it with the simple goal of wanting to spend more time with his sons and share in their passion.

“I can honestly say I enjoy [coaching],” he explained. “Ultimately, and I learned this from a friend in Wyoming who got me into coaching, is that what’s most important is that all the kids are having fun. I want to make sure all the kids are playing and that we as coaches are growing the kids’ love of the game. I want to create memories for them and make sure that they are competing to the best of their abilities.”

When McKnight was forced to make the move to La Vernia because of his career, a factor in the move was whether or not the community they would come to would have an opportunity for his boys to continue playing hockey. While there aren’t many venues in this region of Texas, San Antonio did offer the chance to continue playing with the San Antonio Jr. Rampage.

“It was a tough decision, honestly,” McKnight said about the decision to move. “I took a job where I had to move because it was what we had to do. I can’t say I would’ve stayed in Wyoming and been unemployed so that they could continue playing hockey. But, it was a factor. I did a lot of research online about places that had hockey for them.”

These days, in addition to competing on the house and travel clubs for the Jr. Rampage, Ethan and JaXon, along with their father as coach, continue to compete in tournaments with some of their former teammates from Wyoming. Most recently, in July, they competed in the Cornhusker State Games in Omaha, Neb.

This Olympic-style tournament featured some of the best young hockey players in the United States. McKnight’s teams with his sons, the Wyoming Young Guns Under 12 and Under 10, performed extremely well. Ethan’s team won first place and the gold medal, with JaXon’s earning bronze, coming in third.

There were some really great teams playing in this tournament,” McKnight said. “I’m really happy with how our teams performed. We want all of our players, including my sons, to go out there and have fun, but we also want them to perform to the best of their abilities. I think that tournament was great for them.”

Keeping grounded has helped McKnight and his sons continue to enjoy a sport that isn’t as widely popular in their new home as other “traditional” athletic endeavors in this part of Texas. However, he has left the door open to “recruit” new devotees and/or converts to the sport.

“My sons love hockey and whether or not they go on and become professionals in it, that’s not up to me,” McKnight said. “I want them to do what they love and as long as they are having fun, I’m behind them. I have also let some of our new neighbors know that, if they’re interested, we can point them in the right direction. I think it would be great to have another sport here in La Vernia for our kids to play.”

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