Longtime Santa Rosa goalie Cornelius leaves California, will play ’21-22 for USPHL’s Cherokee
For Will Cornelius, leaving California to play junior hockey wasn’t an easy decision, but one he said he had to make to follow his dreams.
A Santa Rosa native, Cornelius will be one of the goaltenders this season for the USPHL’s Toledo Cherokee, one of the top teams in the league’s Great Lakes Division.
“I had options to play for other teams, but those fell through,” Cornelius said. “I ended up sending emails to teams all over, but it was really late in the recruiting period and most teams had their full roster put together. I ended getting one reply back from the Toledo Cherokee coach saying they would love to have me.
“What appeals to me is that the team plays in a good league and has some good coaches. I would later learn when I got here that their players are just as good and welcoming as I was hoping. Being part of a team and league that takes pride in moving kids to the college level is both exciting and inspiring. It makes me want to perform and become better than I was before.”
Growing up, Cornelius starting playing hockey in his hometown around the age of four after his father had him in skates at three. He played in the Santa Rosa “basics” program until he was seven and made the program’s travel team.
“This was also the time when I realized I wanted to play goalie,” Cornelius said. “From there on, I played for the Santa Rosa Flyers until the name change to Sonoma County Flyers in 2018. I went on to play two more years of travel hockey. I was never really interested in the pros that much as a kid despite going to a few games because watching never was the most interesting thing for me to do. I would much rather play than watch, but I am sure that’s how most people are.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Cornelius said this season will go a long way in determining his future prospects.
“I look forward to putting on the Cherokee jersey and playing some games,” said Cornelius. “My current short-term goal is to simply get better. I want to play at a higher level. My current long-term goal is to play in college.”
— Matt Mackinder
(September 23, 2021)