Photo by Brain Liesse,                                 Seattle Thunderbirds                                 Tyrel Bauer attends Kentwood High School and plays defenseman for the T-Birds.

Photo by Brain Liesse, Seattle Thunderbirds Tyrel Bauer attends Kentwood High School and plays defenseman for the T-Birds.

Local teenager plays for Seattle Thunderbirds

Kentwood student selected by T-Birds in 2017 WHL draft.

Tyrel Bauer has been playing hockey since he was 4 years old. He’s from Cochrane, Alberta and doesn’t live the normal life of a teenager.

Most teens are focused on school, friends and where they’re going to college. Tyrel’s main focus is hockey.

About two years ago, Tyrel was recruited by the Seattle Thunderbirds. But at 14 years old, his dad, Steve Bauer, said he was too young to play.

Then in the 2017 Western Hockey League draft, Seattle selected Tyrel in the second round at pick No. 41.

In fall 2018 Tyrel moved to the Covington area. He currently plays defenseman for the T-Birds.

“It was different. I had never lived away from home before,” he said. “It just took a little bit of adjusting, but everything (my parents) taught me rolled into action. I think about what they taught me and how to be the best person I can be.”

Since Tyrel’s parents did not come to Covington with him, he lives with a local host family.

According to Steve, the Thunderbirds arranged for him to live there.

“We’ve gotten to know them quite well. So we’re pretty comfortable with where he’s at,” Raelyn Bauer, Tyrel’s mom, said.

Tyrel also said he really likes his host family and said they’ve made him moving away from home for the first time really easy.

“They’ve made it feel like home and they made it feel like a family and they’re just super nice people. Very down to earth, very caring and I couldn’t be more happy for my situation I got there,” Tyrel said.

On top of moving out of his home country and moving in with a new family, Tyrel also began classes at a new school.

He attends Kentwood High School and Steve said he’s been able to maintain a 93-95 percent average in all of his classes.

To make sure he stays on track and that all of the credits he earns at Kentwood transfer over to his school in Alberta, counselors from both schools and Raelyn work together to make sure that happens.

Tyrel said he goes to school as long and as often as he can, but said he misses a lot due to road trips, games and practices which typically take place during the day.

Teachers at Kentwood have been a big help with scheduling and making sure he does not fall behind, he explained.

Tyrel has since adjusted to life outside of home, but said it was hard at first.

“I mean playing here, we’re hockey players and our life is kind of put on the side, whereas back home it was more so it was my life and I kind of played hockey on the side. It’s mainly just the workload and adjusting to the schedule and you know all these guys are all trying to aspire to be professional hockey players and so work day in and day out to get try and reach that goal. So it’s basically just adjusting to that level of professionalism that we have to get to,” Tyrel said.

When asked if he felt he was missing out on a normal teenager life, he said he doesn’t feel that way. His reasoning was that even though it’s definitely different, he said he’s still getting life experiences out on the ice and with his team.

On top of that, he said when he does go to school he likes that he gets to interact with kids and experience some aspects high school has to offer.

Steve also said he thinks hockey is great for teaching life lessons and that he does not think his son is missing out on anything, but instead is gaining so much more in life than he would if he wasn’t playing for the team.

Unlike his teen counterparts, Tyrel is also not necessarily looking to go to college. At least not right away.

He said he wants to play in the NHL one day.

If the NHL doesn’t work out for Tyrel, he said for as many years as he plays for the junior league, the league will pay for that many years of college, as long as the college is within his home region.

For example, if he plays for three years on the Thunderbirds, he is eligible to go to college for three years all expenses paid.

“If pro doesn’t work out, then it’s nice to know I have a safety net to fall back on,” Tyrel said.

Even though playing for the team is a serious task to have everyday, Tyrel said he also has a lot of fun with his teammates on and off the ice.

“You make lifelong friends and lifelong relationships that bond just kind of never leaves. You get close to everybody and that kind of sticks with you your whole life, but I’d also it’s a very fun environment. It’s hard working, they teach you hard work and overcome obstacles,” he explained.

Since he is so busy playing hockey, Tyrel said his parents try to visit him as often as they can.

Raelyn said she and Steve try to watch every game at least on TV, but will try to make it to see games in person as well, especially when they play in Canada.

“Both my parents are both extremely hard working and just taught me so many valuable life lessons that not only can I use in sports, but also in everyday life. I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done for me,” Tyrel said.

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