TAMPA – Alex Weisenmiller sees the smirks. They don’t bother him at all.
He’s an ice hockey player in Florida trying to make it big on the national level. He isn’t content with simply being a novelty, the guy from Florida trying to compete with the big boys from far more traditional hockey lands.
No, he’s making a name for himself and holding his own very well.
Weisenmiller is a center on the Steinbrenner High ice hockey team. Hockey is not a sport sanctioned by the FHSAA, but it is gaining ground in Florida. No native Floridian has ever played in the National Hockey League, but some have been through Florida and reached the big time. Weisenmiller wouldn’t mind turning the NHL on its head and showing that Florida has game.
He also knows that he has the reputation of simply being from Florida. He attends hockey camps at such elite hockey schools as Notre Dame, Michigan State, University of Massachusetts-Lowell, and many others. He hears the talk and ignores it with a laugh.
“Yes, I get snubbed because I am from Florida,” he said. “Sometimes they joke but I don’t take it seriously.”
He does take hockey seriously. He not only plays for Steinbrenner, which uses players from other schools throughout the Northwest Hillsborough area, but he plays for other hockey teams throughout Tampa Bay.
It all started when he learned to skate at the age of 3. A couple of years later, he was playing hockey. He is also certified as a USA Hockey referee, and he is a devout Detroit Red Wings fan.
He started as a goaltender and moved to center once his skating improved. He understands that making it as a Floridian on the national stage might be tough, but he’s headed to summer camps all over the country to get his name out there. He said he is convinced that when scouts start paying attention – and forget that he is a hockey player from Florida – they will take notice.
“Yes, I might have a chip on my shoulder when I go to the camps but I also know I have to earn their respect,” he said. “I am out there training every day and do all the summer camps I can do.”
Weisenmiller is already taking steps to make sure he gets into a hockey college. He has already gotten representation from NCSA, a Chicago-based organization that matches high school athletes to colleges. He wants to get involved in sports marketing when his hockey career is over. Getting into college will be no problem. He has a grade point average that is well over 4.0 at Steinbrenner.
For now, he is excited about the next stage of his life, but also about getting Steinbrenner into the state playoffs. The Warriors finished three points out of the playoffs, and he said it’s time to take the next step.
“It still hurts to come so close last year,” Weisenmiller said. “This year it should be different.’’