Prosper Hockey team builds culture, involves multiple communities

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Christi Norris

The team gathers by the goal during their game against Plano East High School on Sept. 24. Prosper defeated Plano East 5-1. “Yes we might be a hockey team,” head coach Yev Saidachev said. “But we want people to know our program of fine, young individuals who have good heads on their shoulders. The only way we do that is if we treat people the right way.”

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As their skates cut and their sticks hit, Prosper Ice Hockey players said they are focused not just on winning, but on destroying stereotypes and building each other up.

When the program was started six years ago, Prosper Ice Hockey established one of the few teams of its type, specifically for high school students. Led by head coach Yev Saidachev, the team recently moved up to the silver division and competes weekly against other local high school teams. 

We want the kids to have a good time,” Saidachev said. “A good time doesn’t mean do whatever you want. It’s competing, working hard and really creating a camaraderie and culture.”

With practices twice a week, Saidachev said practices are built around what the team is trying to accomplish. 

We put a lot of focus on our own end, and make sure we’re doing the right things and supporting each other in our zone,” Saidachev said. “It’s more all system play right now, as we continue progression throughout the year. It comes down to where we’re struggling.”

Senior Fisher Naumann said it’s hard to compare hockey to other sports because it’s on its own level. 

“If anyone has ever played any other sport, it’s the highest point of those sports,” Naumann said. “It’s those high adrenaline feelings, but throughout the whole game. It’s all of those best parts of those games, happening the whole time.”

Though the team is made up of high school students, hockey parent Brett Claypoole said the ultimate goal of the team is to create a travel culture within a high school parameter.

During warm-up before a game against Plano East, No. 15 senior Fisher Naumann passes the puck on the ice. This season, Naumann has played in a total of four games and has made four goals and one assist. This is Naumann’s final season with the team. (Caroline Wilburn)

“While we’re not traveling to Minnesota, we’re not going to Boston,” Claypoole said. “The gear the kids are using, the amount of practice is very similar to when our son played travel hockey.”

Beyond focusing on his team’s technique, Saidachev said he is focused on building fine young individuals rather than simply hockey stars. 

“Yes, we might be a hockey team,” Saidachev said. “But we want people to know our program of fine, young individuals who have good heads on their shoulders. The only way we do that is if we treat people the right way.”

Senior Jackson Stubblefield said he has already noticed the positive change Saidachev has brought to the team. 

“He works hard for us,” Stubblefield said. “He really pushes us hard. He’s doing a good job, because last year we came from pretty much nothing. We came from an individualized team, and he kind of pulled us all together.” 

Besides the boost in team bonding, Claypoole said he trusts Saidachev’s expertise of the game. 

“Coach ‘Yev’ is awesome,” Claypoole said. “I’ve known him for a few years now. His knowledge of the x’s and o’s when it comes to the game is unparalleled among a lot of the coaches in Dallas.”

With a relatively new program, Saidachev said it is a struggle to get the community involved in the team. 

“The program was around before I joined,” Saidachev said. “I’ve been fortunate to be here the last three years, and everyone has done a tremendous job building the program. Unfortunately, to do that, you need resources, and the program has never had the resources or had the community outreach to be known.”

Naumann said although most people are uneducated on the culture and rules of hockey, the goal for him and for his teammates is to show the truth of the sport and get the community involved. 

“We’re a sport that’s up and coming down here in the south,” Naumann said. “We’re here to make a show, just to be able to spread the word about the organization and let people know it’s a really fun sport to watch. Just try and get the community involved, so it’s not just a club sport anymore.”

Besides communication, Claypoole said the overall team culture and connection is at its highest point ever, all due to Saidachev. 

Yes we might be a hockey team. But we want people to know our program of fine, young individuals who have good heads on their shoulders. The only way we do that is if we treat people the right way.”

— Yev Saidachev

“The culture of the Prosper hockey team, we believe, is at an all-time high,” Claypoole said. “Team chemistry seems to be flowing really really well. Communication from the coaches and the board have been very fluent. From a player’s standpoint, all of the plans are well executed. They have increased the number of practices, the number of tournaments looks to be increasing.”

Naumann said the team feels plugged into each other and that they are executing their plays well as a result. 

“A big thing is to be on the same page, to be able to all think alike,” Naumann said. “Since we’ve all gotten so close, we’re all in the same mindset, and we know what we’re going to do before it happens. Us all being on that wavelength really just helps us play super well.”

“I think it’s exciting as a coach,” Saidachev said. “It’s all about excitement from a player’s perspective, when things just click. For us, it’s truly embracing the lowest performing player to the highest performing player, and there’s no true change in how we treat (them). The goal is, and I’m proud of the kids so far, to just come together.”

Besides support from the community, Stubblefield said he owes a lot of his success to his parents.

As his teammate climbs over the edge, No. 88 Hayden Claypoole of Prosper assists No. 19 Tyler Hagenbrock of Celina as he comes off the ice. This season, Hagenbrook has made one assist after playing only one game. Claypoole scored one of the goals against Plano East. (Christi Norris)

“They’re really supportive,” Stubblefield said. “They’ve put in so much time and effort into helping me get to where I am. They’ve gotten me with coaches. They’ve funded the team. They’ve definitely put in a lot of time and effort into me and my hockey team.”

Like many other members of the community, Naumann said his parents were unfamiliar with hockey when he started playing.

“None of my parents (had) been remotely around the game before I came around and started,” Naumann said. “They were just as new to it as I was. But through the whole thing, they’ve been super supportive and have really enjoyed it and grown to love the sport.”

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In addition to their passion for the sport,  Stubblefield said the team has grown attached to one another.

“It’s a big family. It’s really enjoyable to be around and just hang out,” Stubblefield said. “Hockey teams are like families. They’re really tight-knit, and everyone looks out for one another. Everyone is around each other all the time. It’s just a bond that manifests from the team.”

 

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