For Nick Josephs, education comes first but hockey runs a pretty close second.
The challenge for the 18-year-old Calgary-born forward is finding the proper balance between the two.
Josephs currently pulls a full load of engineering classes—six this semester—at UBC Okanagan while also playing with the KIJHL’s Kelowna Chiefs.
So far the combination seems to be working, as the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Josephs is not only doing well with his courses, but he’s also excelling as a star in junior B.
Josephs leads the KIJHL in scoring, with 26 goals and 50 points in just 21 games.
“It’s been going really well actually, I seem to be coming into my own this season,” said Josephs, who had 76 points in 41 games last season with the Chiefs. “I just need to keep playing my game. I love it right now, and hockey helps give me a break from classes.
“As far as school goes, it works pretty well out for me playing here,” Josephs added. “(Coach) Ken (Andrusiak) is really good about it, and has some pretty strong school values, so it’s been good.”
Based on the way he’s torn up junior B over the last two seasons, it’s not surprising Josephs had drawn more than his share of interest from junior A teams and a few post-secondary hockey programs.
He played a few games last season with the BCHL’s West Kelowna Warriors and has already dressed two games this year with the Salmon Arm Silverbacks where he scored his first junior A goal.
Still, maintaining a heavy class load while playing in the BCHL would be a more complex undertaking than his current situation in Kelowna and the KIJHL.
Following this season, Josephs plans to re-evaluate his options.
“I’m not too sure what the future holds,” he said. “I’m playing it by ear right now. I’ve had options to play junior A, but so far I haven’t decided which way to go. I have some interest in the CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport), too. You just try to keep your options open.”
Whatever path Josephs chooses, Chiefs coach Ken Andrusiak is certain the talented forward will succeed.
When it comes to player in the KIJHL, Andrusiak says few can match Joseph’s skill level.
“He’s confident right now, he has nice hands and he shoots the puck better than anybody in this league,” Andrusiak said. “He spent a lot of time in the weight room over the summer and he doesn’t get bumped around like he did last year. He makes everybody around him better and he deserves to be in that other league (BCHL). But he wants to be an engineer, too, so I think he’s having fun where he is.”
Joseph’s older sister, Katy, is also a hockey player and a civil engineering student at the University of Wisconsin. And while following Katy’s her footsteps is certainly an attractive scenario, Josephs plans to remain focused primarily on his education.
“One bad hit and suddenly I don’t have hockey anymore, so school is very important to me,” said Josephs. “If I get a chance to combine both in the future, then I’d be really happy with that.”
So for now, Josephs plans to live in the moment and help his Kelowna Chiefs take a run at the KIJHL crown.
“The team is playing well and winning, so that makes it fun, too,” he said. “I think we have a chance to go far this year.”
Josephs and the Chiefs return to action Friday night when they host the North Okanagan Knights.
The Chiefs will be looking to bounce back from a two-game skid this weekend when they host the North Okanagan Knights on Friday night. Face off at Rutland Arena is 7 p.m.
Kelowna dropped a 4-3 contest to the visiting Osoyoos Coyotes on Tuesday.
The Chiefs (16-6-0-1) remain atop the Okanagan Division of the KIJHL, seven points ahead of Osoyoos.