Parkite Brady Bennett wins prestigious youth hockey tournament
When Brady Bennett was two years old, his dad, Jeff, thought his son possessed a rare talent.
But Jeff, not wanting to be one of those parents who believes everything his kid does is exceptional, he relied on the affirmation of others to confirm his beliefs.
“One thing Shannon (Jeff’s wife and Brady’s mother) and I learned right away is that Brady possessed tremendous hand-eye coordination at that age,” Jeff said. “Not only did he have the ability to catch and throw a ball, he drilled basketball shots over and over again on one of those little hoops. Everyone else who saw him thought there was something special about him and what he was able to do, so it was more than just our perspective which was nice.”
Fast forward to the present and Brady, now 12, has won the Easton Cup, an elite hockey tournament, with the Colorado Bombers AAA hockey team.
“It was such a crazy and cool experience to be part of a team like that,” Brady said. “After we won the championship, we all just tossed our gloves and helmets in the air and celebrated on the ice. I know I’m young but it’s something that I’ll always remember.”
Brady’s journey to becoming a member of the Bombers wasn’t the original plan however. After playing for the Utah Junior Grizzlies, a AA team from Salt Lake City, from 2015 through 2018, Brady and his family thought moving up to the AAA level would be a good idea. Under the tutelage of Grizzlies coaches John Anderson and Greg Leeb, Brady felt ready for the next step in his career.
So this past summer, he was invited to a few practices with the Colorado Thunderbirds, a AAA team based out of Morrison, Colorado. After the practices, he was invited to tryout for the 2019 summer team.
But in a twist of fate, Brady wasn’t selected to the Thunderbirds but the Bombers, a spinoff of the Thunderbirds, saw the tryouts and invited him to join the team. Joining kids from Minnesota and Colorado, as well as Salt Lake City native Easton Larson, one of Brady’s good friends, Brady joined the Bombers and the rest is history.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking and intimidating when I first joined the team because I was the new kid on the team and these guys were really good,” Brady said. “But having Easton helped, and once we got on the ice and started playing, it all became very natural for us. It was a lot of fun and I learned so much from playing with them.”
With his summer team planning to rejoin the Bombers next summer, Brady will be playing with the Park City Ice Miners for the upcoming winter season. Returning to play for his hometown is something Jeff and Shannon have thought about, but it was only until recently did Brady really start thinking of playing in the red and black Ice Miners colors again.
“Getting the opportunity to play with my friends again, ones who I grew up playing with, is something I’m really excited about and have been wanting to do for a while,” Brady said. “I want to continue to move up to the next level and I think playing with the Miners gives me the best chance to do that. … I’m really excited because its always been fun playing for Park City.”
While multiple people have been instrumental in helping Brady continue his growth in hockey, including Mike Adamek, director of hockey for the Park City Ice Miners, Brett Beebe, coach and mentor of RAD hockey and Tommy Anderson, coach of the Park City Ice Miners, no one has been more influential than his mom Shannon.
Shannon has an extensive background on the ice, not only as a former competitive figure skater but also now as a power skating coach. She used to coach at the Park City Ice Arena, among other locations in area, and whenever she was at the local rink, Brady was there as well.
“Hockey was just inevitable for him, and it all started when he first began skating and learning to play the game at three,” Jeff said. “He wont remember this but the Park City coaches at that time were essential in getting him to learn the game and play. … It was just kids learning to play for the pure fun of it, and I think that’s how he first fell in love with the sport.”
The hockey family is just more than Shannon and Brady, as Jeff plays in one of the hockey “beer leagues” in the area. Just an average player according to him, Jeff admits that Brady’s skill is better than his, and watching his son play the game is one of his greatest joys.
“It’s really fun to watch him play, and there’s nothing I wouldn’t rather do than take him to practice and games and watch him play,” Jeff said. “Brady wouldn’t be where he is today without his determination and love of hockey. … And while his coaches have been so instrumental in his development, it’s Brady who has taken all that he has learned and worked on it day in and day out.”
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Dave Hanscom announced last month he was retiring as volunteer race director of the Wasatch Citizens Series after 30 years in the position.