BY MATT MACKINDER
Clarkston News Staff Writer
When Ty Gallagher was offered a spot on USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program last spring, the Clarkston native quickly accepted.
Now almost two months into his first season playing for the NTDP’s Under-17 Team in Plymouth, Mich., the 16-year-old defenseman beams with pride.
“This has been one of the best experiences of my life, pretty surreal,” Gallagher said. “It’s an honor to represent my country every day and play the sport that I love. It’s been great being teammates now with a lot of guys I played against in the past. Now, I’m getting to know them as family.”
A typical day for Gallagher and his NTDP teammates, many from all over the country, is pretty structured – three classes at Northville High School until noon (two more classes are taken online), lunch and then a team meeting at USA Hockey Arena before a team weightlifting session around 1 p.m. before taking the ice for practice at 2:10 p.m. Sometimes, there is a study hall after practice.
“Being away from home, it’s hard to catch up on things, but it’s not terrible,” said Gallagher, a high school junior who has committed to play NCAA Division I hockey for Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. “I’m not complaining.”
Just an hour or so away from Clarkston, Gallagher was asked who misses him the most.
“Probably my mom (Anita, a teacher at Clarkston High School),” said Gallagher. “I know my dad (Peter, a teacher at Clarkston Junior High) definitely misses me, too, but I think it’s my mom the most. We’re pretty close. It actually works out great where they can come out to all of our home games and can even make trips to road games, too. My billet family, we’ve always been really good friends and were good friends with them before this season, so my family can come and visit whenever.”
Gallagher lives with the Wierengo family. Luke Wierengo was teammates with Gallagher last season on the Compuware 16U team. He said billeting can essentially prepare him for college when he heads to Miami in a couple years.
“I never really thought of it that way, but it’ll get me ready for college,” Gallagher said.
Looking ahead, Gallagher is excited for the opportunities in front of him.
“I’m really looking forward to the international tournaments and a chance to go win a gold medal with my team,” he said. “Right now, I just want to keep getting used to the size and speed of the USHL. Every time you move up a league, the size and speed gets better and the players get bigger. I’m just getting used to that.”
Gallagher noted that playing for the NTDP with a college commitment set, he didn’t come this far on his own.
“I’m thankful for all my coaches and my parents and all my teachers in Clarkston,” Gallagher said. “My teachers were always so supportive of me and were always understanding if I had to miss school for tournaments and stuff like that. They just gave me the work, let me do it and didn’t ask questions.”