By Ashley Nguyen
April 7, 2022
SAN JOSE, CALIF. –At 15 years old, Tristan Lee is a star player on the Jr. San Jose Sharks team. For over eleven years, Lee has devoted his youth towards hockey and has earned commendable spots on the Jr. San Jose Sharks team and Jr. Santa Clara Blackhawks team.
The Jr. Sharks team is a youth hockey program based in Northern California. It consists of five age divisions that range from 6, 8, 10, 12 and 14. Their motto is, “Provide a fun atmosphere to foster a lasting love for the game of hockey while developing players on and off the ice…”
What sparked Lee’s initial interest in hockey were his older brothers. He says,“Back when I was like 3 or 4 in Chicago, I remember a specific car ride where my brothers had big smiles and were talking about how much fun their hockey practice was. I wanted to have that experience, so my mother signed me up for a skating lesson…and I hated it.” Although his first experience on the ice was not love at first sight; mainly screaming and crying, when he finally got the courage to try again at age 5, he instantly fell into place.
After spending many years playing for the Jr. Sharks, Lee felt something pulling on his heart and felt drawn to bring his talents somewhere else. He had history with another Jr. hockey team, the Santa Clara Blackhawks.
“I have been with the Blackhawks organization for over six years, and if it weren’t for the excellent coaches and tight-knit community. I wouldn’t be the player I am today.” He attributes his success with his teammates and coaches that have shaped his life as a hockey player. However, he puts it straight forward saying that he is mainly there to “finish business,” and in hockey terms, that means aiming for a state title and another run at the USA Hockey Nationals tournament.
A typical week for Lee with the Jr. Sharks was spending 4-6 times a week on the ice, averaging about 10-12 hours a week. Although he wanted to, he could not find the time to do school sports at Silver Creek given his rigorous schedule. He learned how to manage his time and priortize many parts of his life, but that also came with sacrificing other parts that he cared about.
Lee has stayed humble throughout this whole journey and does not believe people should refer to him as “that hockey guy.” He does not believe the Jr. Sharks define who he is as a person, referencing other things that he’s proud of. He mentions one incident when he visited Times Square and was hustled by a group of “wannabe” rappers. They surrounded him saying they hated Californians because they killed a New York rapper, Pop Smoke. Le fired back saying, “I love Pop, I respect the Woo,” and was released, impressing his captures with his knowledge of hip hop music. He says, “My awareness and knowledge of the late Pop Smoke got me out of a steamy encounter over a $15 mixtape.”
Lee plans on only moving forward with his Hockey journey, saying he’ll always be a part of the hockey community on and off the ice. He intends to give back everything that the sport has taught him. He is in the beginning stages of forming a potential ice hockey team at Silver Creek High School for the 2022-2023 year.