It began in Salmon Arm for 100 Mile House Wranglers forward and occasional defenceman Harley Bootsma.
“When I was five, I guess. I started in pre-novice in Salmon Arm. I think my parents just put me in it but it was fun hanging out with the guys and stuff. Made me keep playing,” recalled Bootsma.
When asked if he had any major influences on his development as a hockey player, the 20-year-old spoke of his coach in his first year of midget hockey on the Salmon Arm Silvertips. He said it was a good team and a good season that he remembers, despite losing a lot of the games.
Bootsma also grew up playing other sports such as skiing, lacrosse and soccer. However, he said he had to pick one to focus on as a young teen. So he chose hockey.
“Playing with the guys was a big part of it. I thought it was fun to score goals,” he said.
With ten goals in his three seasons as a player in the Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL), he hasn’t built up a reputation as a goal scorer, something he embraces. Bootsma said his style of play was definitely not a skilled one.
“I just try to get the pucks deep, throw some bodies around and stand in front of the net. I play a kind of a greasy game,” he said.
Bootsma joined the KIJHL during the 2015/16 season, only suiting up for five games with the colours of the Revelstoke Grizzlies. He became somewhat of a regular the next season, playing 24 games with two points. It was in 2017/18 season that he became a mainstay in the Grizzlies lineup, scoring four goals and eight helpers but racking up 144 minutes in the box.
He joined the 100 Mile House Wranglers early in the current season after the Grizzlies traded the forward to the Sicamous Eagles. He only played two games for Sicamous before joining the Wranglers, where is now an integral part of head coach Dale Hladun’s plans.
“It was definitely a little weird because I would say Revelstoke and 100 Mile House had a big rivalry for the bast few years and coming to play for the other guys was a little different,” he said about joining the Wranglers. “They welcomed me in.”
Bootsma is also having his best year statistically in the KIJHL, scoring five goals and 10 assists. He’s also substantially spent less time in the sin bin.
“I definitely play a lot more here then I did in Revelstoke and that means you can’t be sitting in the box so much, so I tightened that up a little bit. It’s going fairly well so far.”
Being one of the older guys in the locker room, Bootsma said he doesn’t try to be Mr. Serious but is sure some of the younger players look up to him.
He said he has taken defenceman Ben Keon, a 17-year-old from North Vancouver in his first year in the KIJHL, under his wing.
Bootsma is undecided on the future at the moment, he’s not sure if he will play next season at all. If he does though, he said it will be here. If he can play hockey in college or university, he would.
Outside of hockey, he is contemplating becoming an electrician.
“I think I would like to do something like that,” he said.