The Canadian dream…to be a hockey player in the NHL, and a Stanley Cup Champion with the Toronto Maple Leafs!!!
That really is the dream of a lot of kids growing up in Canada. Especially the Leafs part, am I right?! Well I know people will disagree with me, mainly on the Leafs ever winning a Cup it seems, but I “beLeaf” one day we will! (See what I did there?) Anyways, the point of this is that dream is where my love for figure skating started; I just didn’t know it yet.
Not only was that Canadian dream mine, but also my Mother’s, so here I am in the Stirling Arena getting ready for my first day of Timbits hockey! How exciting it was until I went running on the ice, then everything changed. I wasn’t the best skater per se, actually that’s a lie. I was probably the worst out there. And I was already very competitive, so I did not like it when someone took the puck from me. My great solution at 7 years old was to either try to trip them with my stick, or actually hit at them! I know, I know, what a great solution right?! No, it really wasn’t. These great ideas actually led me to a lot of time in the penalty box, (yeah I was that good), and at the end of the year, the coaches/organizers told me that I needed to learn how to skate before I could rejoin… So yeah, I am maybe the only person to get kicked out of Timbits?
My grandparents then put me into the CanSkate program so I would be able to return to Timbits the next year! I did get a lot better at skating that year, but I never went back to organized hockey. Without knowing it my hockey dream changed, I remember watching another male skater in the year end carnival and I asked if I could do that. So, the next year I went from this very scary cheetah, to this cowboy with figure skates and all!!
At that point, I really liked skating, but still kind of wanted to start playing hockey again. Then my coach asked me if I wanted to skate pairs and sent me home with a link to watch on YouTube so I would know what it was. That was the first of thousands of times I watched (and still watch for that matter) Jamie Sale and David Pelletier’s Love Story program from the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, and that’s the first time I fell in love and knew I wanted to be a pair skater. The moment I really started to fall in love with skating.
Now you know how we talked about that Canadian dream? Well for a long time, once I started figure skating, all of the kids who still had that dream started to give me a very hard time about being a figure skater. I was originally from the Eastern Ontario Section (before we became this awesome Skate Ontario family!) and grew up in a town called Trenton. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. Trennt from Trenton, how original…but I was actually born in Belleville! Fun Fact, I was actually born in the same hospital as Brian Orser, Elizabeth Manley, and Glenn Fortin!
Okay back to where I was, so the area I was from was a big hockey area. Hence the Canadian dream. That made me very different; being one of the very few male skaters from the area unfortunately started a lot of bullying problems at school. I always stuck up for myself, but for a long time I was always made fun of or even involved in fights. But I still loved skating and still had lots of other people cheering me on for it.
I was fortunate enough at a young age to be put into contact with some older pair skaters who really helped support me and, in a sense, get over that period of bullying. Bryce Davison was the first to share how it can be hard at first but that eventually, all of that bullying noise goes away. I also had Dylan Moscovitch and Eric Radford to look up to, who would sometimes talk to me about it. Even a small email or a quick conversation, or even just having them to look up to, made a world of difference for me. They were right, slowly the fighting became less and less, and the bullying in general started to disappear as we all grew older. I really hope that one day I can repay that same feeling to even one person like those older skaters did for me. Even if they aren’t a skater but going through a tough time, because we see bullying is prevalent in almost every situation.
So, if I can help one person to start, maybe that helps one skater stay in the sport longer and get to keep enjoying what they love, then maybe they’ll do the same for someone else, and the ripple continues.