Athlete of the Issue: Julian Leonhardt ’21


Margie Bowen

Leonhardt on the ice.

Julian Leonhardt ’21 is a three-year Senior who plays defense on the Boys Varsity Hockey team. He also played for the Portland Jr. Winterhawks while growing up in Vancouver, Washington. Teammate Luke Johnson ’22 said, “He was my [defense] partner last year, and I wouldn’t have wanted to play with anyone else. He’s a beauty on and off the ice.”

What challenges has the team faced this year and how have you adjusted?
The biggest challenge is getting to know each other. Obviously, this year’s a lot different with COVID and us not being able to be in the same locker room or interact with each other all the time. We’ve been doing a good job on the ice and in team lifts, trying to interact as much as we can, so I think we’ve done the best with the situation we have. This year, we definitely felt pretty discouraged about not being able to play games. Building off of last season, we were really looking forward to this season and where we could go with it, so it’s definitely discouraging that we didn’t get to fully accomplish that. We’ve just gotten through it by keeping a positive mindset, taking the most of what we have within scrimmages, and getting ready to partake in whatever the future holds for us.

How has the season been so far?
The biggest challenge is keeping up our motivation to just be there and show up to practices. Not having the motivation from games makes it especially difficult, but practices have still been super-intense and game-like to get the players ready for the next level, whatever that might be.

Which current Upper Mids make you excited for the future of the team?
Karsen Dorwart ’22, Nate Brockington ’22, and Luke Johnson ’22 were all part of the team last year, and they bring great characteristics to the locker room. They’re a super hard-working group, and they lead by example. I think that’s the biggest factor our team needs – being able to look up to those guys, to see what they’re doing and how it’s led to their success.

What is your advice for aspiring Varsity players?
Keep working and have a positive attitude. Eventually you can get up there, if you just keep your head down and keep working. That’s one of the things that Coach [Mike] Traggio definitely looks for: the work ethic in guys and the ability to be there for your teammates.

What are some of your memorable moments playing hockey?
The most memorable moment for me was making it to Elite 8 last year – just that game, that atmosphere. Even though we lost (it was a tough situation), it’s probably the most fun I’ve had playing hockey. Even though they were against us, having all the rowdy Dexter fans there was a great experience. Also, beating Salisbury one year at home was a great experience – our fans were so supportive of us.

How have you changed as a player during your three years here?
I’ve definitely become a more disciplined player. Before coming here, I would often jump in the offensive zone as a D-man when I wasn’t necessarily supposed to. That kind of worked at the level I was playing at back home, but that didn’t really work here. Also, Coach Traggio is all about discipline and structure, so we implemented that in my game and it has helped a lot.

What are your plans for hockey in the future?
That’s a great question, one that I don’t really know myself yet. As of right now, I think my hockey career will end after this year, but we’ll see.

While we are discussing the future, what are your thoughts on the future of Hotchkiss hockey?
The future is super-bright for Hotchkiss hockey. I think that the core group we will have after we Seniors graduate is a great group of guys. They bring a lot of skill and depth. Our goal looking forward should just be to get to where we were last year: to make the playoffs in order to bring that reputation to Hotchkiss.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.