Courtesy Vernon Morning Star, posted Jan 28, 2015 at 1:00 AM
Once he watched snowmobilers happily zipping around nearby Portage Lake, Jagger Williamson was hooked on Michigan Tech University.
The 16-year-old Vernon Viper rookie visited the Houghton campus on a weekend flydown and quickly committed to an NCAA scholarship with the Division 1 Huskies, for 2016-17.
Houghton has a population of 7,700 and has been listed in the “100 Best Small Towns in the U.S.” It has an enrolment of 7,000 with the school sitting on the bluffs overlooking Portage Lake.
“It was amazing,” said Williamson, who was accompanied by his parents, Brian and Tracy. “I wanted to go to a safe and small school. Being from Lumby, I didn’t want a really big school. The people are awesome and the coaches are great. The dorms are second to none; they’re like apartments. Everyone knows you and it feels amazing to have a scholarship there.”
Williamson, sidelined by a foot injury since the Christmas break, has four goals and 21 points in 35 games with the B.C. Hockey League Vipers. The 5-foot-7 buzzsaw was drafted by the Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western Hockey League Bantam Draft two years ago.
“We didn’t set a timeline. They said, ‘We’ll support whatever you decide. We need some speed and quickness and we’ll have room for you.’”
Williamson was on the Huskie bench for their warm-up before a game against Alaska-Fairbanks Nanooks – the other school who pitched him an offer – with head coach Bill Muckalt.
“He showed me around the dressing room and the players lounge. Fans were there an hour and a half before the game and bands were playing; it was insane.”
Michigan Tech has won three NCAA national championships and is second in the WCHA Conference, at 13-4-1, just back of the Minnesota Gophers. Viper grad Mason Blacklock earned a scholarship to Michigan Tech last year, but is on injured reseve. Vernon’s Alex Gillies (Salmon Arm Silverbacks) has 3-3-6 in his freshman year.
Vernon head coach/GM Mark Ferner expects Williamson to be an impact college player.
“He’s such a competitive kid. His character is off the charts. He’s a guy who loves to be at the rink. He’s a very popular player within our group even though he’s only 16 years old. He’s always got a smile on his face, he wants to be a better player and he’s always working on things.
“We as an organization are just thrilled for him. It’s a well deserved scholarship; it’s a good school. I know they’ve been after him for a while and rightly so. Michigan Tech has a real good character and skilled player that will make a difference for them.”
Williamson (Sept 18, 1998) becomes the third Vernon rookie to commit to an NCAA program.
Liam Finlay, of West Kelowna (Feb 18, 97) currently second in team scoring, committed to Denver University.
Johnny Couglin, a nineteen year old from Fairport, NY, is committed to Holy Cross (Div 1), for 2016-17.
William’s commitment means a total of nine Vipers are currently committed to NCAA programs.