Slapshots: How Hockey Became Part of my Lifestyle

Slapshots: How Hockey Became Part of my Lifestyle

A Guest Piece by Derek Harper, Seattle Totems Beat Writer

Portland Winterhawks in action against the Vancouver Giants. Photo by Derek Harper


I was never really the type to fit in, that is until I found hockey in sixth grade. Sixth grade was when I knew I wanted to be a sports broadcaster for a career and when I found hockey which made me want to broadcast that sport specifically. Sixth grade was when I attended my first Western Hockey League (WHL) game between the Portland Winterhawks and visiting Seattle Thunderbirds. After taking in that game I was hooked on hockey and have attended Winterhawks games ever since.

Around that same time, I started volunteering for the Fort Vancouver Vipers of the regional Junior-A Tier-3 and now defunct Northern Pacific Hockey League (NPHL). The Vipers ceased operations after six games, three at home, due to lack of players and increase in player injuries. I did play-by-play and color commentary for the three home games the team had. I was devastated when they folded because I loved broadcasting the home games and being part of the organization. Shortly after they folded I got the chance to do color commentary for one game for the West Sound Warriors of the NPHL in a game they won in a shootout over the Bellingham Blazers.

Shortly after the Vipers folded I found out Portland State had a club hockey team, so I got in touch and started volunteering for them. They competed in Division Two of the American Collegiate Hockey Association (ACHA). The following season I began volunteering for the Vancouver Rangers, a new Junior-A team that competed in the Tier-2 Western States Hockey League (WSHL). Around the time the Rangers hit the ice, I launched WSHL 365 which includes a Facebook page and fan forum, Twitter account (@wshl_365), and website ( For the Rangers I did various tasks including getting the privilege to do play-play-play with one of the broadcasters for the team.

For the Vikings I did different tasks including joining the broadcaster for the Washington Huskies for a game when they were in town. Soon after I joined UW’s broadcaster for the one game, I started calling games on my own where I really found my passion. The Rangers stayed in Vancouver for two seasons before relocating to Bremerton where they became the West Sound Warriors before ceasing operations after one season. The West Sound Admirals have since replaced them in time for the 2018-19 season.

Around the time the Rangers left, the Vikings ended up not playing another season which left me with nowhere to volunteer which felt a bit odd. However, I had some excitement for a short time. I landed a game day operations internship with the Winterhawks, however after little contact, I never worked a game. For the 2018-19 WSHL season, I’ll be a beat writer for the Seattle Totems.

I’ve attended three Vancouver Canucks games and was very impressed with the experience. I’ll always enjoy attending Winterhawks games, but once I experienced an NHL game I realized that’s what I want to be part of in the future. From player introductions to the pace of the game and everything in between, the NHL is top notch. When you walk around Vancouver you see people in Canucks gear, decorations, advertisements. These are just a few things that show much the team means to the city.

I’ve acquired a great amount of knowledge about the game of hockey. I’ve learned about the game itself and things not directly related to the game such as the saying of how hockey is a family. Not only is hockey a family, but it’s a lifestyle. It doesn’t matter what age you start following hockey, where you discover it, or how you discover it. It doesn’t matter if you’re involved with the game somehow such as volunteering for a team or just attending games. Once hockey becomes part of your lifestyle it’s with you forever.

About the Author:

Derek Harper is a Sophomore at Central Washington University (CWU). He plans to major in communications with a focus on broadcasting in his pursuit of a sports broadcasting career. Starting this season, he’ll be a beat writer for the Seattle Totems of the WSHL. During the summer he works as an office assistant at Harper Houf Peterson Righellis (HHPR) Inc. and as a member of the Hillsboro Hops Game Day Staff.


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