Originally from Kodiak, Starr played hockey in Portland, Ore., for four years and felt lost without competitive hockey in Kodiak.
KHS doesn’t offer hockey as a sport, so the junior started a club.
“I came back and it was disappointing not having it here,” Starr said. “We had enough people and the resources. It really wasn’t that hard. All I had to do was find a coach. It all just came together.”
In stepped Aaron Tiernan.
Tiernan works for the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and moved to Kodiak last year.
The Service High product brought with him a vast knowledge of hockey. He played on junior league teams in Fairbanks and Texas and also spent four years at Fitchburg State University, an NCAA Division III school.
He jumped at the chance to coach the club team.
“It has been going well,” he said. “The kids are really improving. They are definitely getting better and working at it. It is nice to see.
“We have practice at 6:30 in the morning and it takes some dedication to show up at that time to really want to work at it.”
The club has been practicing three days a week — twice in the morning — since mid-November.
Sixteen players showed up for the first meeting. Since then the numbers have dwindled to about 12.
The club mostly consist of high school students, with several eighth-graders sprinkled in.
Junior foreign exchange student Jan Zhiradmicek from hockey-crazed nation the Czech Republic didn’t hesitate to join, even though he had never played before.
“I like hockey,” he said. “It is my favorite sport for watching, so I wanted to try it.”
Tiernan said the skill levels of the players vary. Some have played on teams before, some have not.
“We work on their skating and getting their passing and shooting down,” he said, “just the finer points in hockey.
“Mostly, the kids just wanted some extra ice time. It gives them something to do during the winter time instead of running around and getting in trouble.”
Tiernan hopes the club can eventually play against teams from the Mainland, but he knows it may be a long process.
“I told the kids at the first meeting that it might be a two-year process to get into a game,” he said, “because I really want to get the kids going and to be able to put a team on the ice that will be able to compete.”
The ultimate goal is to become a sanctioned Alaska School Activities Association sport.
“That is all depending on the kids and what they want,” Tiernan said. “I would love for that to happen. It would be great for the kids.
“If there is enough support within the community and kids in general, I think you could field a team pretty easily.”
Kodiak High School activities director Bryan Ferris said the club hasn’t approached him about becoming affiliated with the school, yet.
“If they wanted to play games, we would try to schedule games,” he said.
Whatever happens, Starr simply wants to get high school-aged kids involved in hockey.
“I just want to get people more experienced and more people interested in it,” he said.
Mirror writer Derek Clarkston can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.