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The news site of UNC Wilmington

The Seahawk

The news site of UNC Wilmington

The Seahawk

The news site of UNC Wilmington

The Seahawk

UNCW hockey player Nolan Tabraham talks about himself and the future of the Seahawks program

UNCW’s Nolan Tabraham. (Robert Raymer)

UNCW Hockey has been gradually growing for several years now.  

Tabraham joined the Seahawks last year and is one of the lead defensemen on the team currently. The Seahawks are currently 7-5 in league play in a tough conference. They hold wins over UNC and Wake Forest, among other programs. Tabraham is one of the older players on the team, making a consistent impact. Tabaraham was able to sit down with The Seahawk to talk about his hockey career and the Seahawks program. 

Q: Fayetteville, N.C., your hometown, does not have the biggest hockey community. How did that affect you, growing up playing the sport? 

NT: Growing up, I started skating when I was four, and started playing hockey when I was five. We had a program down there, at the time, it was called the Fayetteville Fire Ants. Suddenly, they branched off, and became the Cape Fear Warriors. When I was 10, I started to have to drive up to Raleigh about three times a week for practice and games. It’s definitely taxing, but in the long run, it is worth it. Hockey in Fayetteville is definitely growing, especially with the Fayetteville Marksman – the SPHL team-being there. It’s definitely growing, and I love to see it. So, kids nowadays probably don’t have it… I don’t want to say it’s tough as I did, but it’s definitely a lot easier to access the sport in the city of Fayetteville, and it’s amazing to see. 

Q: You have some experience playing with the Junior Carolina Hurricanes of the USPHL. How was your experience with that organization? 

NT: I spent three years there and it was top notch. It was everything from the upper management down to the players and the billet families. It was an unreal experience. Like I said, I spent three years there. I went in as a new 16-year-old kid in my junior year of high school. The memories and friendships and the bonds that I’ve made with those kids and the adults and my billet family; I still talk to them all the time. 

Q: What is a billet family?

NT: A billet family is basically a host family, so being from Fayetteville, I didn’t want to make that commute to Raleigh every day or twice a day, so I stayed with a family up there. The Dormans – Michael, Meredith and Hayes – they were amazing. They treated me like I was their son. Every time we go up to Raleigh to play UNC or NC State, we still stay with them. It’s amazing. The organization alone… there’s not enough good things I could say about them, and I still consider them very close and I’m proud to be an [alumnus] from them. 

Q: In your words, how is this season going for the UNCW Seahawks? 

NT: The current season is going well for us. We got off to a hot start, had a brief hiccup and now we’re back gaining traction. The boys are clicking. We clicked pretty early on in the season, and now I think as the weeks go on, I think we’re getting a lot closer. 

Q: Being one of the older guys on the team, how does that affect you being a leader amongst your teammates? 

NT: Anybody’s really a leader on the team despite age. We got new 18-year-olds that are coming straight out of high school that are leaders on the team. Anybody can be a leader on the team. Obviously, being one of the older guys, we are looked upon for our experience. One of the first things we said to all these freshmen coming in [was] if you need help planning classes or just finding that time balance, we were there to help them because we’ve gone through that. Just when guys have questions, we’re always there. I know Chris McGrath, Brendan Umscheid, Cameron Trainor… we’ve all played high-level hockey, and we know the rigor of the season and how taxing it can be on the body. Just giving them little tidbits of advice here and there when they need it or just a quick pick me up for them. That’s really the only thing.  

Q: Do you have a particular favorite moment playing hockey that you look back on especially fondly?  

NT: For UNCW it would be my first year, coming out playing against USC [University of South Carolina]. Just coming out and seeing a packed rink at home; It was easily the most people I had played in front of. It’s nerve wracking to say the least, but we love it and we feed off the energy of the fans and we couldn’t ask for better fans. As far as my whole hockey career… My first year juniors, we beat our in-state rival- we swept them, actually, in the series, two to nothing to go to the national championships, which ended up getting cancelled because of COVID. Still, we beat them pretty handedly and that was one of the better moments of my hockey career, I would say. 

Nolan Tabraham at UNCW’s 5-4 winning game against High Point. (@Hockeyhousepod via Instagram)

Q: What are some of the goals the UNCW hockey organization has moving forward? 

NT: We want to win a national championship, obviously, but we also want to not only grow as a program, but to grow these individuals that we have to become better men and better people in society. We want them to be able to reflect the team and the university in a positive manner. But yeah, a national championship would be nice. 

Q: So, to win a national championship, what would the team have to do? 

NT: We would have to win the ACC tournament, which is our district, and we’d have to win ACC regionals, which is everybody in the ACCHL. So, the ACCHL is broken up into different divisions. Obviously, we’d have to win our division and go win against all the other teams, and then we’d go to nationals and it’s doable. It’s very doable. I think that could be a goal that we have within the next coming years, if not this year. 

Q: What does playing for UNCW mean to you? 

NT: It means a lot. It wasn’t only a way for me to get involved with this school, but  a way for me to represent this university that’s prestigious and phenomenal. It’s amazing to be able to represent this school and wear UNCW with pride. It’s been amazing and I don’t think I can put it into words. 

Q: What are you studying in school? 

NT: I’m an exercise science major with a concentration in Allied Health. I’m planning on being a physical therapist. That’s the career path I want to take, whether I go the military route, the sports route, or working towards owning my own practice one day. That’s still something I’m teeter tottering with, but I have some time to think about my options and really weigh them out. 

Q: Who’s your favorite hockey player? 

NT: Currently I got to go Quinn Hughes, he plays for the Vancouver Canucks. He’s the captain of the Canucks. [He’s a] defenseman, American born. He’s one of the best two-way moving defensemen I’ve ever seen, and that’s probably ever played the game. All time, I’ve got to go Bobby Orr – shout out my boy Cam Trainor. Orr was one of the best defensemen to ever play the game and probably will be forever.  

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