Part Wrangler, part Sailor: Rezac attends high school while playing hockey
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Jacob Rezac was on skates at three and playing hockey at four. The Steamboat Wranglers forward was born and raised in Northfield, Minnesota, where babies basically come out of the womb with blades on their tiny feet.
Minnesota produces hockey-crazed fans and players at an alarming rate. It’s the state that’s inspired an all-hockey hair team, featuring wacky mullets or full rosters with matching do’s.
In 2017, when Mahtomedi High School stepped onto the ice for the state quarterfinals against Northfield High, the entire Mahtomedi lineup had bleached hair.
Rezac’s hair is perfectly normal, though. At least, in 2019. It’s a dusty brown color with a few pieces sticking up as if he’s been wearing a hat all day, perhaps the gray Wranglers cap that sits next to him on a bench at Howelsen Ice Arena. He dons a light gray jacket that is a little too big for his slim frame and matching pants. He completes his pre-game look with socks and slides that feature the Steamboat Wranglers logo.
Despite his smaller size, which he admits is a weakness for him, Rezac wants to play hockey. He’s hoping to continue in college, like his father, Andy, who played Division III hockey at the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota.
Rezac, 17, doesn’t have blinders on, though. He knows to keep his options open, so unlike most of the Wranglers, he’s still attending high school. From 7:30 to 11:30 a.m., Rezac attends core classes at Steamboat Springs High School.
He’s on track to graduate in the spring, which he’ll stick around and do here, rather than returning home for a month after the hockey season ends.
If hockey doesn’t pan out, he wants to go to college and study aerospace engineering.
“I’ve always been kind of a science guy,” he said, naming biology and physics as his favorite subjects.
Still, hockey is the goal right now, and Rezac’s hockey IQ could potentially get him there.
“Some players just have a sense of what to do. I’ve been told I know what to do, no matter what,” he said. “I’m just kind of born with that sense, is what all the coaches I’ve played for tell me.”
Wearing his all gray get-up, Rezac arrived at Howelsen Ice Arena a few hours early ahead of a game against Wichita, one of two teams in the Mid-Western Division of the Western States Hockey League that had yet to win a game. The other is Steamboat.
The Wranglers have allowed 175 goals through 17 games, while scoring 19. Two of those goals have come at the hands of Rezac.
On Friday, the 0-17 Wranglers were as amped as they’ve ever been as they prepared to take on the 0-12-1 Thunder. However, they got a call that Wichita wouldn’t make it to Steamboat before game time.
“That was probably the most hyped we’ve been for a game before,” Rezac.
Despite the slow start to the season, Rezac is still happy for the opportunity to play hockey.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “Playing against adversity is the best way to grow. That’s what I think, and a lot of people think. Basically, just the experience itself is nice.”
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