‘Fierce competitor’ Wolthers decides on NCAA D-I UMass
For Ethan Wolthers, the road to playing NCAA Division I hockey began in earnest in the L.A. Kings High School Hockey League (LAKHSHL).
The 5-foot-7, 160-pound forward is a high school senior now, but when he first walked into West Ranch High School in Valencia as a freshman, he was even smaller and was overwhelmed by the size of his teammates and opponents. But he adjusted quickly, scoring 25 goals and adding 22 assists during his freshman season of 2015-16.
That success propelled him to two strong seasons playing Tier I hockey with the Anaheim Jr. Ducks (while also playing tournaments with West Ranch) and last month, Wolthers committed to the University of Massachusetts (Hockey East) for the 2020-21 season.
“In the last month or so, over a dozen schools approached me about committing,” said the 2001-born Wolthers. “It was very hard to make a decision, as I had a variety of choices, from Ivy League to hockey powerhouses. It was very humbling to me. When looking at all the schools, the hockey style, the coaching staff, the facilities, and academics all played a huge part in my decision.”
For the 2018-19 season, Wolthers will be playing with the USHL’s Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, and he expects to log one more season there before settling in at UMass. His next goal is to make it to the NHL.
“I have not been playing hockey that long, and it’s been an exciting path to get where I am now,” Wolthers said. “I have the next six years planned out for me, and it’s a big dream but I think it’s something to aim for and motivate me.”
Playing in the LAKHSHL helped set the foundation for Wolthers and all the things he has achieved since.
“It played a major role in my development,” he said. “As a freshman playing against seniors, I was undersized, and it really helped me develop my confidence – going against players who are bigger, stronger and faster really helps you develop. I rolled into AAA with that confidence, and I’m happy with where I am now.”
Jason McNamara, the president of the West Ranch Hockey Club, said that Wolthers was the first player from West Ranch to commit to a college program. Earlier this month, Wildcats alum Jack Titter committed to play goalie for Cal State Northridge, which ices a team in the ACHA.
“It starts with Ethan – no program or coach can take credit for the success he has had,” McNamara said. “Ethan is a fierce competitor and he is successful because he doesn’t just wish it, he works it. It’s very satisfying for the West Ranch program and the Kings league to have been a part of Ethan’s journey.”
A former BMX racing prodigy who first sat on a bike at the age of two and went on to win two national championships and three world championships for Team USA, Wolthers eventually gave up his first love to pursue hockey. He says a lot of what he learned has translated from the bike to the ice.
“The work ethic and dedication to be the best in BMX racing has propelled me to where I am as a hockey player today,” Wolthers said. “I owe all that drive and determination to my mom and dad (Marcel and Monica), who pushed me to be the best I can be. In the end, I always wanted to do what my older brother Nic was doing and do it better than him.”
— Greg Ball
(Sept. 24, 2018)