Westminster native, longtime Thunderbirds star Valdez has ‘dream come true’ with CC commitment
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Michael Valdez is playing 16U hockey this season, but already has junior hockey plans and an NCAA commitment to Colorado College in the bag.
Needless to say, the Westminster native is seeing his hard work pay off exponentially.
“I have been talking to CC for a while and developing a relationship with them,” said Valdez, a forward with the Colorado Thunderbirds’ 16U AAA team this season, who committed to the Tigers last month. “I was fortunate enough to receive an offer, which was a dream come true. Any time you get the chance to play for a team and organization like that, it’s a no-brainer. I grew up watching and idolizing them.
“The schooling and academics speak for themselves. You receive a degree that means so much from a great college. The biggest thing was receiving a good education and I knew CC would give that to me. Their hockey program has produced a lot of great talent and has great coaching. They develop great players and helps make their players better every day.”
Valdez said he is looking to enroll as a freshman in 2-3 years.
“I’m eager to reach my goal to play there but there is still a lot to work on,” he said. “I’m not sure when I’ll get the opportunity to play there but whenever I do, it will be a special day.”
This season playing for the Thunderbirds “has been great,” said Valdez.
“We have played great as a team and all of us have developed a close bond,” Valdez said. “We all have our minds going in the right direction and are excited to prove we are one of the best teams in the country. Personally, I have played great and hope to keep it up. There’s a long road ahead of me.”
Valdez was selected by the Fargo Force in the fifth round (72nd overall) of Phase I of the 2020 USHL Draft, and he hopes to crack the Fargo roster in 2021-22.
Growing up playing for the Hyland Hills Jaguars, Valdez then made the jump to AAA his 11U year playing for the Thunderbirds.
“I played for Zach Bloom, who shaped my mentality of the importance of work ethic,” Valdez said. “He developed me as a player in unimaginable ways and made me a better person. Also, David Clarkson, who is my coach right now, is an instrumental part in my career. He developed me in ways on the ice but more importantly, off the ice. Playing under him for the past two years has been the best hockey I have played in my life and pushes me every day. I learn every day from him.”
Short-term goals in hockey for Valdez are to win states, regionals and nationals this season, while long-term aspirations are to play for CC and ultimately, in the NHL.
“I also want to get a degree from CC and if stuff doesn’t work out in hockey, to get a great job in the medical field,” said Valdez.
— Matt Mackinder
(Feb. 9, 2021)