Gregg Zelkin

Unlikely path to hockey doesn’t stop Glenn Vega

February 15, 2016

Football, basketball, baseball, track and field, cross country, swim and dive, cheer, tennis. In the large, diverse culture that is LB, there exists a plethora of after-school activities, clubs and sports teams. Some of these clubs and sports are more well known than others; however, one sport that seemingly no one knows LB is home to is its ice hockey team. Yes, while surprising to many, Lake Braddock offers ice hockey, which plays in a league and competes for championships just like all other sports. And, at the head of it, is senior captain Glenn Vega.

I’m less experienced, but at the same time I feel like I can bring a lot to the team. I can still bring enthusiasm and keep the boys motivated.”

— Glenn Vega

Vega is most commonly known for his dedication to LB’s volleyball team. As the team manager, he can be seen at every practice, game and team event supporting the team in any way he can. What is not commonly known about him is his involvement and importance to the LB ice hockey team. Not only is he the team’s goalie, but at the beginning of this year’s season he was named team captain.

“I was actually surprised,” Vega said. “I’m a goalie, and goalies sometimes aren’t allowed to be captains at certain points.”

IMG_0016 (1)Gregg Zelkin
Vega had an unlikely path to ice hockey. He was born in a Choctaw Indian Hospital in rural Oklahoma. While he was born in the United States, within a month of his birth he and his family traveled abroad to live in his family’s home in Nicaragua, where his mother worked in the American Embassy.

“I always lived in tropical places,” Vega said. “The weather was always warm where I was, even in Columbia it still was never cold enough to snow.”

At the age of three, he moved to Tegucigalpa, Honduras and two years later to Kingston, Jamaica. From there he traveled to Bogota, Colombia and eventually back to the United States. While he has been to a variety of places and countries, all of the countries he lived in had one common theme: None of them had a single ice rink within their borders. Colombia was the only exception, where in Bogota, the capital, it was cold enough to have an ice rink in the mountains.

Vega’s first hockey experience occurred during a vacation to visit his grandfather in Texas, where they went to a Dallas Stars hockey game.

“We got front row tickets,” Vega said. “I thought it was really cool. The ref gave me a puck, and it was just fun in general.”

The experience was more than enough for Vega, and after experiencing the exciting atmosphere of a professional hockey game, he decided he wanted to be a hockey player.

“In Colombia, I went to a private school,” Vega said. “They had a rink and a team, and my P.E. teacher was the coach so I just showed up one day.”

Despite having no experience with ice or hockey at all, Vega was determined to learn and began his hockey career through sheer willpower alone. He didn’t immediately begin playing hockey though when he reached the States.

“When I moved back from Colombia I didn’t take skating lessons until later,” Vega said. “I was playing soccer at first, and then I took basic skating lessons in Arlington and Alexandria.”

Vega started his hockey career as a goalie his sophomore year, a feat that is difficult to attempt with any sport. Yet begin is what he did, and he found he was able to do it at a competitive level. He joined both LB’s ice hockey team and the NOVA Ice Dogs club team at the same time and slowly worked his way up.

“[The hardest part was] getting used to the game,” Vega said. “When I moved back I stopped playing. It was a mistake, but I didn’t know that until later. I had to get used to the game, gear and equipment. Goalies have different moves too, so I had to get used to that as well.”

IMG_0003 (1)Gregg Zelkin
While the beginning may have been tough, Vega’s effort proved well worth it after only two seasons of playing, and he was named captain for his senior season.

“I felt like it was an honor and blessing,” Vega said. “I’m less experienced, but at the same time I feel like I can bring a lot to the team. I can still bring enthusiasm and keep the boys motivated.”

Vega’s hockey career will not end in high school. After graduation, he plans to travel overseas once more, this time to Moldova, a small country in Eastern Europe. He plans to take a gap year to learn another language and gain experience in the world before returning to the United States for college.

“After we graduate, I’m moving to Moldova in July,” Vega said. “I’m going to be working at the American Embassy and taking online classes, playing hockey and traveling around Europe.”

While Vega will be once again changing the country he lives in, there will be one difference with this next one: There are a plethora of ice rinks and leagues to choose from in Moldova and unlimited experiences and opportunities waiting for him.

 

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