Red Grizz focusing on ‘skills gained,’ ‘friendships made’
Thinking outside the box is something Eric Capps obviously excels in doing.
Back in 2015, Capps, Jeff Tilk and Connie Tilk wanted to find a way to “do something more than what high school offers, but less time, travel and expense than what the other 16U teams were offering.”
After a successful 2015-16 season, the Red Grizz team is back in full force for 2016-17, again with the sponsorship of the Utah Jr. Grizzlies youth organization.
“This team is meant to complement what the respective high school teams are offering,” Capps said. “We feel that we have a good niche where we keep costs low, but offer an opportunity for kids to continue to travel and play in a few tournaments throughout the season. We wouldn’t have a team without the Jr. Grizzlies sponsorship.
“The Jr. Grizzlies were kind enough to offer sponsorship last year. At first, we thought all that was needed was just their name on paper to make us legal. They have provided so much more, from scheduling our practice ice to helping out with jerseys last season.”
“Most of these kids battled either with or against each other all the way through 14U,” explained Capps. “Initially, I was nervous because I wasn’t sure if a few of them could get along. I was wrong. I love watching the Red Grizz players play against each other during the local high school games. They still go hard at each other in the corners, but will at least apologize or laugh about it afterwards.”
The 2016-17 Red Grizz team is comprised of Connor Allen, Carson Angeroth, Alex Brown, Marcus Capps, Nolan Carpenter, Cade Casto, Sam Flores, Zac Graham, Jeremiah Iba, Jordan Jaramillo, Jeff Kain, Burke Larsen, Tate Larsen, Dylon Pearson, Maxwell Pereira, John Teynor and Trevor Tilk. Capps is joined by fellow coaches Mike Brown, Ryan Larsen and Jeff Tilk.
“We had a relatively small team last season that was heavy on the 2000 birth year,” explained Capps. “We were very young, trying our best to compete against players 3-4 years older. It was a bit rough, but the team battled hard and gained some valuable experience last season.”
This year, the Red Grizz features nine returning players and has added eight new team members.
“We are still a young team, and we only have a couple of players that aren’t eligible to play 16U, but I feel with the talent and experience these kids have that we will do well this year,” said Capps.
As far as which high schools are represented on the Red Grizz, Capps said, “We have the Salt Lake Valley covered” with players from East, Olympus, Alta, Bingham, Brighton, Murray, Skyline, Stansbury, Bountiful, Oquirrh and the Salt Lake Stars. The coaching staff for the Red Grizz represents four different high schools – East, Olympus, Bingham and Brighton.
As far as the schedule for the season, Capps reiterated that playing high-level, local competition is the top priority.
“One of our goals is to keep costs as low as possible, so we try to stay as close to home as possible and play in either high school tournaments or 18U A-level tournaments,” said Capps, whose club will play at the Grizz Cup in January.
After this season, Capps noted that there will “absolutely” be another Red Grizz team in 2017-18.
“We are in for next season no matter what,” said Capps. “Determining if a season ‘goes well’ isn’t completely about wins and losses, even though a pile of wins is nice. Wins and losses are forgotten over time.
“Skills gained and friendships made are the only things that matter.”
— Matt Mackinder