I am blessed with some extraordinary young people in my life, namely my daughters, my niece and my nephews. This is the story about what happens when one of them combines his passion with motivation, perseverance and grit.
Jordy is a couple of months younger than my youngest daughter, and when he was born, he was basically twice her size, and twice as loud. So while Brooklyn was cooing and smiling away, oblivious to his needs, the first year of Jordy’s life was a whirlwind of screaming, colic, more screaming and the odd nap in between. Most times, we were ready to poke our eyes out. But then, one day, it stopped, and our little man’s personality began to shine through. That, and his passion for the game of hockey, a love for a sport passed on by his father, but even more so by his grandfather Elvin, a man who lived and breathed the game.
This love for hockey was made painfully obvious when I was asked to babysit both boys one weekend. Having put all 5 kids to bed by 8:00 p.m., I was enjoying a fabulously sound sleep…we’re talking deep REMs…the ‘don’t bother me for days’ kinda sleep. Yet, at around 1:30 a.m. on a Saturday night, I woke up to the sounds of ‘Thwap…thwap…thwap’ somewhere in the house. I went to investigate, a baseball bat in hand just in case, and there was Jordy, practicing his slapshot in the basement. Now, keep in mind that he was 18-months old at the time, and was decked out in his diaper, skates and a soother, with his mini-stick in both hands. Somehow, he climbed out of his crib, turned on the lights in the basement, put on his skates and proceeded to work on his technique. So, Auntie Paula and Jordy had a few rounds of mini-sticks before I convinced him that it was time to get back to bed, so that this trooper could actually sleep before I had to feed the masses at 6:00 a.m. Now, I don’t believe that this was the first time that this happened in their household, and it was certainly not lost on me that even at such a young age, he was devoted to getting better at something he loved.
As he grew older, Jordy was always the first one out the door to practice on their backyard rink, and the last one in the house, despite those frigid -40C Manitoban winters. In the summer, when he wasn’t playing baseball with his buddies, he was either playing street hockey or working on his slapshot against their poor puck-marked fence with his friends and brother. They got so good at it that one slapshot careened through the net, ripped a hole through it and then took a chunk out of the fence behind it. The looks on their faces when they realized what had just happened made it even more difficult to keep a straight face…but then again, it wasn’t my hockey net, nor my fence, so I could afford to laugh…alot!
Over the years, Jordy kept at it…he trained on the ice with his teammates and his coaches…he worked with trainers…he made the most of dryland training opportunities…he played in whatever tournaments were made available to him and he worked his butt off to be a part of very competitive teams. He wasn’t always lucky, and he didn’t make every team that he tried out for, but it didn’t stop him from continuing to work at improving his craft. What it did do was push him to work harder, so that the next time, he would be successful. He did so by listening to his coaches…reflecting on his practice…and constantly trying things out so that he got better each time he stepped on the ice.
This work ethic lead him to a junior career in the WHL, which saw him play first in Calgary for the Hitmen…and then again for Prince Albert Raiders. Unfortunately, after only 9 games in his first month with this team last year, he was injured and sidelined for the remainder of the season. True to form, however, instead of looking at this as a major setback, he worked his butt off once again following his surgery, and came back stronger than ever for his final season in the WHL. And what a season it was! Sadly, it came to an end last night after a loss to Moose Jaw in their 7th game of this playoff series, and with that a certain level of sadness for us, as we loved cheering him on over the years from his Timbit stage to the Juniors. That said, his team did an exceptional job against the first-place team in the league, and when it was all over, he conducted himself with class.
Now, I could say that hockey was the be-all and end-all for Jordy, but that certainly isn’t the case. Hockey is his passion, without question. But his approach to working hard, taking risks with his learning and giving everything his all is something that he lives by in all areas of his life. He worked hard to maintain his grades in school, because his philosophy was that if you could do really well and be successful with your studies, why settle for mediocre? So, he studied…and reworked his essays…and listened to the advice that we gave him so that he could improve, despite how difficult some subjects may have been for him. And because of his perseverance, his tenacity and his unwavering belief that he could be successful, he has been just that. Every setback has been a learning experience, and every learning experience has taken him one step closer to where he wants to be.
I do not know what his future holds with this game that he loves so much, but I do know one of two things. He will keep working at it, because that is who he is. And secondly, and most importantly, I am so very proud of this boy…he has brought immense joy to our lives and taught us so much about what it means to keep fighting, to keep working at getting better and to believing that we can. This is what happens when you combine passion with perseverance, and if I could bottle his spirit and spread it around, I’d do it in a heartbeat! Keep on working at what you love doing, buddy, and I guarantee you that it will pay off!