By JAMES COOK
SAULT STE. MARIE — Jared Van Wormer says he’s done his dad proud.
His father, Larry Derda, passed away in 2007. While he went to Western Michigan University, Van Wormer is sure that his dad would be proud that his son will be playing hockey for Ferris State University next year.
“This is what he’d want for me,” Van Wormer said. “It’s a new start for me. I’ve been working hard for both my parents and finally got rewarded.”
Van Wormer, a former Traverse City Central and TC North Stars standout, committed to play for the national runner-up that features a strong connection to his hometown.
Ferris’ roster currently has seven ex-North Stars on it — and three more on the way with Van Wormer’s commitment. Kyle Schempp and Seth Adams have also been signed by FSU.
Only former TC captain Kyle Bonis is a senior, so the Bulldogs roster could feature as many as nine ex-Stars — about one-third of the squad.
All those familiar faces have Van Wormer hoping for a jump start in his college career with last year’s national finalists.
“I’m hoping it will be a good, easy transition for me,” Van Wormer said. “I’m hoping to get playing time, but I’m fine with working my way in. Just hopefully once I get in the lineup I can work hard and stay there.”
A forward for the Soo Eagles, Van Wormer is fourth in the North American Hockey League in scoring and sixth among forwards in +/- rating (+26). He has 17 goals and 55 points in 48 games and has registered at least one point in 13 of his last 14 contests.
At 33-11-4, the Eagles lead the North Division and are fourth in the 24-team NAHL in points.
“It’s pretty cold up there, but I like the hockey,” Van Wormer said of Sault Ste. Marie. “It’s a cool hockey town they have up there.”
Van Wormer is second on the Eagles with five game-winning goals, trailing former TC West standout Eric Rivard by three. Rivard leads the league in that category.
“They liked that I work hard,” Van Wormer said of Ferris’ visits to his games. “They said I had good speed. I’ve been scoring goals here and there. I’m looking to help out any way I can.
“They came and watched me play in Janesville, Wisconsin. They came and talked to me, and I had a good game. It’s obviously close to home and after watching them go to national (championship game) last year, it’s just kind of exciting that they’d even want to talk to me. It was a no-brainer.”
Ferris is ranked No. 24 in the nation this season, the final year of the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
“I worked hard for it since high school,” Van Wormer said. “I’m really happy about it. I’m glad I can help my family out and reach one of my dreams.”