Marcus Wilhite

Marcus Wilhite

What years were you with the Rhinos?

I was with the Rhinos the inaugural season in 06’-07’ and the the Thorne Cup Championship team in 07’-08’.

How did you become a Rhino?  
I first heard of the El Paso Rhinos when I was in Wisconsin at a camp for the Santa Fe Roadrunners.  I had a decent tryout there and Trevor Converse talked to me throughout the camp. I talked to Trevor after the camp about playing in El Paso; however, I had one more tryout to go for a team out of Alaska called the Alaska Avalanche. I ended up making the team out of Alaska, but after being in Alaska for three weeks, I realized that El Paso was a better fit. I called Coach Herman and talked to a few of my friends (Costi Hinn and Sean Molina) that were already down in El Paso and they told me to pack up and head South.

Go back to when you were here. Describe the season or seasons in which you were here, how you felt, and what you experienced.
The first season had its strikes and gutters, but it became a huge learning process for everyone involved. I had the luxury of playing in the WSHL as a 17 year-old for the Valencia Vipers, two years prior which helped me deal with the rigors of a junior hockey schedule. As a team, we clicked like I’ve never seen before. We had a group of guys that came together and would do anything for each other in a very short amount of time. I hadn’t been a part of anything like that, and that was really special. I also had the pleasure to play alongside Corey Jendras, who had 99 points in just 33 games, and at times felt as if we were invincible.

The second season felt much like a continuation of the first season, except we added a lot more depth. We added the best goaltender in the league (“King” Arthur Hollinger), two top defenseman to play alongside Costi Hinn (Sean “The Stache” Molina, Zachary “Puno/Panda” Hale), and some extremely talented forwards (Zachary Kohn, Austin Balko, Jefferey Schmudlock, Parker Harrison, Eric “Rick” Labounty, etc.) From tryouts, we could see that we had the talent and character that led us to a 56-2-2 record, Throne Cup Championship, and National Tournament berth. This team was unlike any I had ever played on. It was like we knew we couldn’t lose, it was impossible; we were a machine.

What is your most memorable moment as a Rhino? 
Winning the Thorne Cup on the road in Phoenix against the Polar Bears was the most memorable. The year before we had been swept at home, and it left a bad taste with all the returners and our coach. When we went to Phoenix the following year and did the same to them, it felt good.

What is one funny story about your time as a Rhino?

Oh boy… one story always sticks out in my mind, that when I think about it I end up laughing and calling Nick Gorup. One day after practice Nick and I decided to grab breakfast at Whataburger. My father had warned me about driving in Gorup’s “death trap” vehicle which was a 1991 “cherry” red Ford Escort, and for good reason. While eating a honey butter chicken biscuit, I just so happened to start choking, Nick, thinking I was just messing around just started laughing, but then realized I may be dying. Nick then started by hitting me in the back of the head, before moving his open palm to my back. When the chicken biscuit flew out, he started laughing so hard he punched the steering wheel. Now, upon hitting the steering wheel, the horn went sounded, and didn’t stop. We drove from the Whataburger, by the rink, nearly 15 miles back to the Mesa exit off the highway with the horn going off. This horn wasn’t any horn, it was a high pitch horn that could’ve easily been confused with a Vespa. When we got off the highway, laughing hysterically at this point, we pulled into a gas station with a garage, and one of the attendants immediately popped the hood and disarmed the horn. I’ll never forget the looks we were getting as we drove down the highway with the horn blaring, especially after a near death encounter with a honey butter chicken biscuit.

Looking back, what do you miss the most?

I miss the guys. There is nothing like drawing from the confidence of twenty-five of your best friends that will have your back in any situation. The jokes, the laughing, the sweat, and all the memories.

Did you continue to play after your time with the Rhinos? And if so, where? Did you receive any awards?

After El Paso, I packed the suitcase and played Division III hockey at Lebanon Valley College, however they removed the NCAA hockey program just a year and a half into my stay, and I transferred back to the west coast and finished up playing club at Arizona State University.

Is there anyone you that still keep in touch with in El Paso?

I keep in touch with a lot of the guys, through calling/text, and various social media outlets. I still see Sean Molina a lot and we only live about 10 minutes away from each other. I usually talk to my linemates Nick Gorup and Bill Krueger, every day.
Where are you and what do you do now?
Currently, I live in Los Angeles. I’ve continued to work for my father’s company Food Service Industry Consultants Inc. as well as beginning an acting career. I am about to shoot my first Feature Film coming up at the end of August.

What is one last thing would like to go back and do one last time as a Rhino?
It would be really fun to have a weekend to go down there with all the guys from that first and second year team and play a couple pick-up games, golf, and just hang out like a junior hockey player. Let’s make it happen!