Merritt BC – Team social media coordinator Katie Campbell caught up with former Merritt Centennials forward Rhett Willcox with where he is now:
So you started your BCHL career with the Centennials in the 2013-14 season, and played with the Valley West Hawks the season before that, what was it like going from Major Midget to the BCHL? – I really enjoyed my time in the BCMML. I developed as a player but transitioning into the BCHL was a major adjustment. I think the hardest thing was the speed of the game along with the size of the players. Along with game situations, the amount of video our coaches went over with us, it was a major change for me. Coach Pierce and Coach Martin believed a lot in video, which allowed us to be way more successful in games.
You played two seasons with the Centennials before ending your time in the BCHL with the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, what was the biggest difference between the Centennials and Bulldogs? – Merritt was an awesome experience for me. I was able to grow not only as a player but also a person. The transition was challenging at the top since I was traded a few times before. Alberni accepted me as one of them, but the biggest difference I believe was the rink size. Merritt was a small rink and everyone knew that, however Alberni was has a bigger rink. Alberni allowed me to grow offensively alongside being a leader since I was one of the older guys on the team.
In the 2016-17 season you played with the Drayton Valley Thunder of the AJHL, what was the biggest difference going from the BCHL to the AJHL? – Between the AJHL and the BCHL was a major difference. I always knew that the AJHL was a very strong league but didn’t know what to expect. I believe it was my first game and I got hit harder ever than before. I believe the amount size and the physicality that was in the AJHL was a difference. It was very tough being a smaller guy in the BCHL but the AJHL made me realize I’m very small and I needed to be more aware of getting out of hits since I felt like that the boys were bigger.
This past season, you played with Royal Military College, what was that like? – Royal Military College has been the best experience of my life. I am super glad to be serving my country along with playing hockey. Our coaches give us every chance to be successful along with playing high key hockey. Usports is a very competitive league and it challenges me everyday, especially playing against older guys. RMC has allowed me to grow as a player but most importantly as a person.
What was your favourite memory from playing with the Centennials? – Merritt has a spot in my heart. I believe my billets had the biggest reason for that. I was accepted from my billets as a member of their family and never felt so supported. Along with my billet family, the crowd was amazing at games. Seeing fans and season ticket holders around town and them always engaging in conversations always made me feel not only proud but also nervous because they expected us to do well.
What’s the thing you miss most about the Centennials organization or Merritt? – My favourite memory playing with Merritt was the playoffs for sure. The amount of support we received from the community was amazing. Seeing the signs along with everyone around us was amazing. I’ll never forget playing in front of the Cents crowd.
What advice would you give junior hockey players that want to move up to play college hockey? – For the players in the Cents organization I would recommend enjoying your time. Learn from every experience that happens. Junior hockey is the best time of your life and I suggest that every player enjoys that time. Take everything in from billets, coaches and the fans, learn from that. My billets had the biggest impact on my life and still currently in contact with my Merritt billets whom I consider family, but every player should live in the moment and learn from everyone that they can be a better person and a better hockey player.
What are you doing now? – Currently I am finishing up my first year at RMC. I am studying business along as an infantry soldier in the Canadian Armed Forces. I am enjoying every minute of my college experience and have to thank my family, coaches, and billets for allowing me to pursue this degree and very thankful for everyone that got me to this point.