Mission’s Hall of Fame to grow by nine players in 2019
Throughout its existence, the Mission AZ youth hockey program has made a concerted effort to establish traditions and create pride in being part of the Mission family.
One of the biggest things that helps them accomplish that is the existence of their Hall of Fame, which honors each player who skates with Mission for at least two years and advances to play at the college or junior levels. The class of 2019 will be inducted before next season begins and includes players who finished their careers with Mission this spring and have officially moved on to the next level.
With nine players set to be inducted next summer, Mission’s Hall of Fame will now include approximately 70 players. These young men and women represent the best of what Mission is, and these are the only names one will find on a Mission jersey.
“In a lot of programs, you’ll hear about one kid who makes it to a big school or junior league, but the other kids don’t really get promoted,” said Jeremy Goltz, Mission’s director of hockey operations. “The Hall of Fame is something that gives us a lot of pride in our program, and we’re so proud of these kids.”
The class of 2019 includes Kyle Ambrose (Northern Arizona University), Adam Beckerman (Northern Arizona University), Kevin Bird (University of Arizona), Peter Chung (Boston University), Michael Consenza (Marian University, Wisconsin), Sam Hinnant (South Muskoka Shield, Greater Metro Hockey League), Andrew Songstad (Maryville University, Missouri), Kyle Tessmer (Creighton University, Nebraska) and Jon Wieland (Vanderbilt University, Tennessee).
“This is our biggest class in a few years, so we’re pretty proud of that,” Goltz said. “A lot of these kids were with us for a very long time, so it should be a really special induction ceremony.”
Bird played for Mission starting at the Bantam level when he was 14, and his team won a state championship the following year (when he was teammates with four other 2019 Hall of Fame inductees). After his 16U season, he decided to go play junior hockey, but found that the experience didn’t live up to Mission.
“I came back because Mission was where my heart was, and I don’t regret it at all,” said Bird, who played one more season with the program after returning to Arizona.
He said playing with Mission for so many years really prepared him to advance to the next level.
“Every day you are competing really hard, even in practice – it made us all better,” Bird said.
“We have a really special Hall of Fame class because there are so many of us. It’s really cool because some of these kids are getting awesome educations at amazing schools. I’m excited for all of us.”
Songstad spent six years with the Mission program and said that experience was crucial in helping him get to the college level.
“I think a lot of it has to do with how we practice at Mission,” Songstad said. “We practice really hard, and Coach Goltz is always on us to help us develop our skills and be the best players we can be. He put together a great schedule that was really competitive, which allowed us to prepare for playing college hockey without playing juniors first.”
Goltz said that late summer and early fall are his favorites times of the year, because that’s when college and junior hockey rosters are finalized, and he gets to hear about Mission alumni continuing to play all across North America.
“One kid just sent me a picture of his new jersey to tell me that he made the team, so it’s pretty cool,” Goltz said. “It’s always an exciting time, and it creates a lot of pride for us and for kids who have been involved with Mission.”
Photo/The Mission AZ Hall of Fame class of 2018 (left to right) – Jake Herzog, Matthew Songstad, Raeann Clancey, Walker Yancy, Brett Charron and Demitri Thorsen – was inducted just prior to the 2018-19 season getting underway.
— Greg Ball
(Oct. 30, 2018)