Staying home: Greenwood Village native Rakowski signs NAHL tender with first-year Grit organization
As the NAHL’s Colorado Grit continues to shape its roster for the 2023-24 season, the team has been adding Colorado natives to the lineup.
The latest tender signing was Greenwood Village’s Ben Rakowski, who signed earlier this month.
“I think this opportunity came to a tender because of all the hard work I have put in over the years,” said Rakowski. “I have had great support from my coaches, teammates and family. I am thankful for Coach (Steve) Haddon and Coach (David) Clarkson to believe in my potential and offer me this tender. They have a strong vision for this program and I am honored to be a tender for Grit.
“I am so excited and proud for the opportunity to be part of building the Grit program in Colorado. Being able to stay in my home state close to family and friends to play junior hockey will be amazing. Colorado has a lot of great hockey players and bringing the NAHL to our state is awesome.”
Growing up, Rakowski skated for the Littleton Hawks until his U11 year when he moved to the Colorado Thunderbirds and played there through this past season’s 16U year.
“My highlights have always been the bonds I have formed with my teammates,” Rakowski said. “Hockey has taught me so much of the importance of teamwork and I will never forget going to nationals my 14U year and winning states my 15U year. I have been fortunate to have a lot of good coaches that care about their players. Kyle Hull (Littleton Hawks Squirt) was a great skills coach that taught me so much at an early age. Phil Patenaude (14U Thunderbirds) built confidence in me to be a leader, and Cam Clemenson (15U and 16U Thunderbirds) pushed me to develop and define who I am as a player.”
Looking ahead, Rakowski has set high aspirations for himself, both at the rink and in the classroom.
“My short-term goals are to keep developing as a player, on and off the ice,” said Rakowski. “I want to be a contributor to the Grit to help build a strong culture. Long term, I aspire to play high-level college hockey and push myself to take it as far as I can in life. My success in school is important and I will continue to work hard to be the best student I can while balancing my drive for hockey.”
Photo provided by Ben Rakowski
— Matt Mackinder
(May 27, 2023)