At 6-foot-3 and 295 pounds, Philip Soderberg isn't your prototypical high school hockey player.
But in his second season playing for Columbus Academy, the senior who previously starred on the football field for the Vikings has emerged as a key contributor on the ice, using his size to his advantage.
Soderberg credits coach Corey Taber for urging him to be more aggressive in a clean, sportsmanlike manner.
"I'm one of the bigger kids that we see, which is good," said Soderberg, who plays forward and is a lineman in football. "I figured out that I had to hit people more earlier this season because when I played before (at the youth level), I didn't ever hit. It wasn't a part of the game. But playing high school hockey it is, and my size definitely helps with that."
Taber said Soderberg is "too friendly" at times.
"He scares people enough with his size alone, so he doesn't use it too much," Taber said. "I've definitely never had a player this big in high school. ... He's a great kid. With some big guys, you never know. He's a friendly giant."
Soderberg helped the Vikings win their first Capital Hockey Conference division title in just their second season at the varsity level. Academy clinched the outright CHC-Blue Division title after a 6-2 win over second-place Watterson on Feb. 7 and Watterson's 4-0 loss to Cincinnati Moeller on Feb. 8.
The Vikings are 9-12-1-1 overall and finished 7-7-1-1 (16 points) in the league with a 14-0 loss to Cincinnati St. Xavier on Feb. 9.
Academy begins play in the consolation bracket of the Blue Jackets Cup on Friday, Feb. 14, against 11th-seeded Springboro at OhioHealth IceHaus. The Vikings are seeded 14th. The winner plays the next day in a semifinal, and the final is Sunday, Feb. 16, at the Ice Haus.
"Our team has really jelled together really well," Soderberg said. "It's been good. We're definitely on an upward trend."
Soderberg, who is the only senior on the team, had three goals and two assists through 21 games.
"Philip will be missed next year," Taber said. "He's a really good leader with the guys in the locker room. He has a lot of respect. I'm happy to see him step up."
Soderberg joined the hockey team after competing as a heavyweight in wrestling during his freshman and sophomore years. He was born in Minneapolis and played hockey until fifth grade, when his family moved to the Columbus area.
"Wrestling just wasn't for me at that time," said Soderberg, who lives in Whitehall. "I played hockey from 3 years old to when I moved to Columbus. Once I stopped wrestling, I figured I should play another sport and hockey sounded like a lot of fun. ... Wrestling was a great sport. It kept me in shape. It was definitely a work-ethic sport. It taught you how to work hard."
Taber was impressed with how quickly Soderberg regained his hockey skills.
"We were looking for some extra players with experience last year," Taber said. "He's from Minnesota, so he's been around it his whole life. He was able to jump back into it pretty quick."
Anchoring the offensive and defensive lines for the football team, Soderberg said he weighed about 305 pounds in the fall. He was named first-team all-district in Division V and first-team all-MSL-Ohio this past season.
"He has athletic ability and a sense of coordination that you can't teach or pick up (late in your prep career)," football coach Robin Miller said. "I was a little surprised (to see him play hockey), but I was happy. I saw a few games last year and a few games this year.
"It's fun to see the improvement he's shown in just a short amount of time. I wouldn't want to go in the corner for a puck against him."
Soderberg will close his prep career by playing goalkeeper for the boys lacrosse team this spring. It will be his fourth year with the program.
He then will prepare for his freshman year at Kenyon College, where he'll join his brother, Angus, on the football team.
Angus, a 2018 graduate of Academy, is a sophomore defensive back and special teams player at Kenyon.
Their mother, Melissa, has been the head of school at Academy since 2013.
"It will be a lot of fun to play (football) with (my brother at Kenyon)," Philip said. "I love football."
Swim teams excel at sectional meets
The boys and girls swimming teams turned in strong performances in a Division II sectional Feb. 8 at home, with both finishing as runner-up in preparation for the district meet Feb. 12 at Ohio State.
Luke Boltz led the boys by finishing second in the 500-yard freestyle (5 minutes, 24.89 seconds). Boltz, James Cao, Gavin Lewis and Cyrus Richardson were second in the 400 free relay (3:31.36), Cao, Lewis, Alek Balaloski and Cyrus Hannallah were third in the 200 medley relay (1:46.87) and Balaloski, Hannallah, Rowan Hennessy and Ezra Johnson were third in the 200 free relay (1:38.26). Cao was third in the 100 backstroke (58.82) and fourth in the 100 free (51.14).
The boys were second (157) of 18 teams behind Granville (275).
Mary Kate Prall, Annalise Grammel, Alexandra Butnariu and Lauren Klinefelter won the 400 free relay (3:46.66) to lead the girls. Prall, Grammel, Lauren Klinefelter and Emma Yakam were second in the 200 medley relay (1:57.53) and Butnariu, Grammel, Yakam and Claire Richardson were third in the 200 free relay (1:46.24). Klinefelter was third in the 100 butterfly (1:00.2) and 200 individual medley (2:17.05).
The girls finished second (177) of 18 teams behind Columbus School for Girls (243).
At district, the top two finishers in each swimming event automatically advanced to the state meet Feb. 20 and 21 at Branin Natatorium in Canton. In addition, 16 at-large state berths were awarded for each event based on district times statewide.
Wrestlers compete in team duals
The wrestling team lost to seventh-seeded and host Ashland Mapleton 54-20 on Feb. 8 in the first round of the Division III, Region 21 team dual tournament.
Winners by pin for the 10th-seeded Vikings were Chris Sugar at 145 pounds (5:14) and Gyvnn Mendenhall at 195 (55 seconds).
Athletes announce college decisions
Nine student-athletes recently announced their college decisions.
Along with Philip Soderberg, Matthew Cammeyer will play men's golf at Lafayette, Griffin Mitchell will play men's golf at Drexel, Sarah Neltner will play women's soccer at Washington-St. Louis, Mitch Priest will play men's basketball at Grinnell, Olivia Seline will compete in women's rowing at Bates, Mackenzie Smith will play women's lacrosse at Wooster, Andrew Swartz will play men's lacrosse at Christopher-Newport and Carter Warstler will play men's basketball at Wooster.
Below are the coming schedules for the Academy boys basketball, bowling and wrestling teams:
*Feb. 14 -- At Worthington Christian. The Vikings lost to the Warriors 58-31 on Jan. 17.
Feb. 18 -- Home vs. Centerburg
Feb. 28 -- Home vs. 13th-seeded Marion Pleasant in second round of Division III district tournament. The Vikings are seeded 12th.
Feb. 14 -- Division II boys sectional at HP Lanes. The top 12 teams and top 12 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Feb. 20 at HP Lanes.
Feb. 15 -- Division II girls sectional at HP Lanes. The top 12 teams and top 12 individuals not on qualifying teams advance to district Feb. 20 at HP Lanes.
Feb. 15 -- MSL-Ohio tournament at Bexley
Feb. 19 -- Home vs. New Albany