Senior Khalil Dhanidina Skates His Way to the Top

Alumnus Kiyan Dhanidina and senior Khalil Dhanidina show off their Irvine United Warriors gear. Khalil Dhanidina is currently one of the captains of the hockey team. (Courtesy of Khalil Dhanidina)

Requiring agility, focus and swiftness on the ice, hockey isn’t your typical high school sport. And senior and hockey player Khalil Dhanidina isn’t your typical high school athlete, either. Dhanidina’s hockey journey started at around 10 or 11 years old, when he was inspired to play because his Canadian uncle also played.

“I started playing at the same time as [my brother] because my mom put us both in it,” Dhanidina said. “He’s two years older than me, so he was, until recently, he’s always been a bit bigger than me. So I’ve always tried my best, like there’s always been an eagerness to be better, and I feel like that definitely pushed me to practice more.”

Rather than his wins and larger accomplishments, Dhanidina said his favorite memories involve partnering with his brother for a season. Dhanidina’s brother has long been a motivational figure at the start of his hockey journey and taught him to become self-motivated as an athlete.

“I’ve been able to see that when I’m more physically fit or I feel like I’m better or more competent in the way I play, I end up playing a lot better, and I’m able to have a lot more fun,” Dhanidina said.

Throughout his hockey journey, Dhanidina learned the importance of teamwork, even seeing success through hockey. When he played on the California Goldrush Hockey Club, which won the Southern California championships and placed third at state championships.

“Your team is only as strong as the weakest link,” Dhanidina said. “You need your whole team to be strong and all need to be able to work together and have chemistry because it’s a really fast-paced game. You need to be able to know your teammates, know where they’re going to be and know how to make each other successful.”

As a committed hockey player, Dhanidina has learned many lessons over the years, but his one piece of advice to aspiring hockey players is to persist through hardships. Dhanidina himself struggled with burnout and balance.