SHERIDAN — Winter sports are in full swing across Sheridan County, and as the Sheridan Hawks 18U team dives into play, a few of the players are finding their skating legs after a later start to the season.
Winfield Loomis, Chase Bales, Wade Jacobs and Toby Jacobs helped Big Horn and Sheridan high schools win state titles in football Nov. 16 in Laramie. A week later, all four players joined the rest of the Hawks in games against Pinedale Nov. 23-24, losing both games 6-3.
While athletes competing in other high school sports have a week to rest, Loomis, Bales and the Jacobs brothers are called upon to contribute immediately after they conclude their fall sport.
Loomis said he had two practices before competing in the first games of the season against Pinedale.
The athletes will still put on shoulder pads and a helmet but instead of cleats they now put on their skates, something they had not done since last season.
Wade Jacobs said going from football to hockey is a challenge. The biggest adjustment is getting used to skating again and said he was sore the first few times after taking the ice.
As players reuse muscles for skating, they also need to change their conditioning level. Loomis said he was in football shape entering the season, able to work hard for five seconds and then having a period of rest. In hockey, athletes need to be ready to skate hard for a few minutes at a time and receive a short break before going back on the ice again.
“First couple of practices I did not feel so great on my legs,” Toby Jacobs said. “I was stumbling around out there. Now I am feeling pretty good, getting ice time under my belt so that helps. It takes a little bit to get used to it.”
The constant motion and action of hockey is something Wade Jacobs enjoys about the sport.
Loomis, Bales and the Jacobs brothers miss out on valuable ice time earlier in the year because of football season. The 18U team practices at the start of November during the period of time when Big Horn and Sheridan football teams are gearing up for playoff runs.
As Loomis and the Jacobs brothers rejoin their teammates on the ice and adjust to the sport, they will also be adjusting to a new coach. Gabe Thums is in his first season as head coach of the Hawks.
Toby Jacobs said Thums has brought good intensity to the season and has been skating the team hard. Toby Jacobs believes vigorous skating will help the Hawks as the season progresses.
Toby Jacobs said the players see the dedication and focus Thums is putting into the season and his desire for the team to be successful.
The Hawks have the foundation for success, Wade Jacobs said, but have a lot of work to do.
As long as the team continues to progress and listen to the coaching staff, then the team will find success, Loomis said.
While the Hawks are 0-2 to start the early season, they have a chance to improve their record against Gillette JV Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game starts at 7:15 p.m. and Saturday’s game starts at 9:15 a.m. in Sheridan on the Whitney Rink at the M&M’s Center.