AMDG on ice: Strake Jesuit’s hockey team takes a fast break

March 22, 2022

The Strake Jesuit College Preparatory Crusaders hockey team beat the Pearland/Friendswood Flyers 8 to 1 on Feb. 11 at the Sugar Land Ice and Sports Center. (Photo by Rebecca Torrellas/Herald)

HOUSTON — When talking about high school sports in Houston, football, basketball and baseball immediately come to mind. It is unusual for hockey to be brought up in the same group.

At Strake Jesuit College Preparatory, with AMDG (ad majorem, Dei gloriam, which is Latin for “The greater glory of God”) across the backs of the student-athlete’s jerseys, hockey is now part of their athletics program.

While the Crusaders hockey team started playing in October of 2021, hockey coach Jeffrey L. Kipp said the idea had been in the works for several years.

“Each of the last several graduating classes has had a hockey player or two. In the Houston area, if you are a high school-aged hockey player, you can play for your school if your school has one, or you are drafted to play for another school’s team,” he said. “Each of these boys at Jesuit was playing for another team while attending Strake Jesuit. The goal was to allow them to play for their own school and have pride in representing their team to their classmates.”

Kipp said a survey of current students was issued last fall, and there were close to 150 responses. Of those who responded, many wanted to try the sport for the first time or just be a part of a hockey community.

“There was a handful who had stopped playing and were interested in playing again,” he said. “There was a group of 13 who were playing at the time and of those six who had been playing for 10-plus years. Once we began this fall, there were 22 players on the roster. Only two of those players were new to the sport.”

The team has 19 skaters and three goalies.

Prior to coming to Strake Jesuit, Kipp was a strength and conditioning coach at the college level for 15 years.

“I began my career at Colorado School of Mines and had a short stint at the University of Denver (DU),” he said. “DU is where I started working with hockey players and then took over the hockey program’s strength training at the Air Force Academy when I began coaching there. With my involvement at the collegiate level, my sons had the opportunity to view hockey at a very high level. My middle son, who is now a freshman at Strake Jesuit, began skating at two years old and playing hockey at age four. He is a big reason that I am involved so heavily in hockey.”

At press time, the team’s record was 20-0 in the Interscholastic Hockey League (ISHL) and 22-3 overall. Next up is the USA Hockey National Tournament in Dallas.

“In our inaugural season, we have managed to be the first Houston team to make it to the finals at the State Championship and earn a bid to the USA Hockey National Tournament,” Kipp said.

High school principal Ken Lojo said, “We are so proud of their hard work and remarkable season. Our students came in with a high bar set for themselves and exceeded it in amazing fashion, all the way to making history by having the Interscholastic Hockey League’s first-ever undefeated inaugural season.”