“Leadership is not a one-day thing. It is a constant commitment to excellence, a habit, a daily practice.” Former U.S. president John F. Kennedy once said this. For us this is the best quote to accurately depict how we view leadership.
We grew up playing our entire minor hockey career for the Markham Waxers of the Ontario Minor Hockey Association. Since then we have both moved on to play in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and now professional hockey. Along the way we have both been put into leadership roles with our respective teams. Each and every time we have been put into one of these roles, we have been extremely honoured.
Something I have always strived to be is a leader. Hockey is a game I love, and whatever I can contribute to the game or my team, I will. Another passion of mine is winning, whatever I do I have a need to win. Throughout my hockey career I have never been the guy on my team with the most skill or natural ability, but I never let that deter me. On the other hand I would consider myself one of the better leaders. Though I am a bit of a loud mouth, I have never been the kind of guy to give a pre-game speech or give direction to my teammates. The way I tend to lead is by being the hardest worker on and off the ice and through positivity. When a teammate does something well, I love being the first guy to make sure he hears about it. Whether it happens to be the best player on the team or someone who has been struggling of late, everyone can use supportive words. Another aspect I focus on is myself. This is where the cliché line of “lead by example” comes into play. You can’t lead others if you don’t show them how. I always worked as hard as I possibly could regardless of how hard anyone else was working.
Being a leader for me continues outside of the dressing room and beyond the arena. I am a middle child but the older brother to Brendan (Haven’t been able to say “big” brother for a couple years now). Therefore, I am always conscious of setting a positive example. For me it starts at home and how I treat the members of my family. My parents are people who I look up to and with their constant love and support they deserve to be treated with the utmost respect. They taught me about living life with integrity and proper values and I made sure to carry that with me every day when I was with them, at school and amongst my friends.
School has always been an important part of my life and I made sure to take my leadership qualities with me there. In the classroom my teachers were always given my respect and I tried to lead by example by being friendly to all of my peers and authority figures. Bullies never sat well with me, I disliked them and would always stick up for people they picked on. I was also someone who brought my competitiveness to school. I had such a drive to do well in school and get good marks. It motivated me when other classmates received better marks, so I made a conscious effort in paying more attention in class.
Making the right decision when I am with my friends has never been a hard thing for me. I pride myself on not being a follower. It is like John. C Maxwell (Author) said, “A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way.” I never bought into peer pressure and what others did never mattered to me.
Much like Cameron, being a leader has been and continues to be a major priority for me. To be successful in life/hockey there are many factors in which you need to excel at. They all require practice, including being a leader. Not everyone will lead in the same way, just like not everyone plays hockey the same way. To be comfortable doing both, don't try and be something you're not. Cameron and I have a lot in common in the way we play and lead. Nothing will ever be fancy, it's about getting the job done, and doing it the right way. To be a leader, you have to follow what you are preaching. You can't expect teammates to do what you ask if they are watching you take shortcuts. Work ethic is an important form of leadership every player can bring to a team. It's also an easy skill a player can add to their game to become a better player.
Our parents always made sure we were working just as hard in school as we were at hockey practice. Being a leader in school can be shown in many of the same ways as being a leader in hockey. Showing respect to both your teammates/classmates, as well as, your coaches/teachers is vital in being a leader. Trying to get along with everyone will show that you care about their success, as well as, your own in every situation. Having this positive attitude helps you and your peers have success. In my opinion the hardest thing for players and parents to remember is that hockey is JUST a game! Growing up there will be more important things to stress over then your hockey game so really make an effort to enjoy your experience and have fun.
Leadership isn’t learned or inherited it is undoubtedly a combination of the two. For us leadership came to us through the values and morals our parents taught us, and the people we were born to be. Whether it is at school with our peers, at the rink with our teammates or at home with our family we will always strive to be positive leaders.