My hockey career started when I was approximately seven years old. My school organized a field trip to Northbrook Ice Arena where the Chicago Blackhawks were holding a practice. I thought the Jersey and logo were the greatest symbol in professional sports, and from that point forward I imagined myself wearing a Blackhawks Jersey.
As my youth hockey days went, I could always count on a backyard ball hockey game or a basement crease hockey game after a 5:00 a.m. skate with the ever-so-famous Wally Kormylo at the Bath & Tennis Club. My brother, Bill was always organizing a game which included most of the neighborhood who, like myself, thought and played as if each game were a Stanley Cup playoff situation.
Playing my youth hockey for the Deerfield Falcons was an incredible experience because our rink was positioned outdoors next to an expressway where wind and brutal weather brought on a completely different type of playing condition each and every skate. More importantly our rink was built by our fathers and players and other participants eager to help the cause. I learned how to attach a pipe clamp among other interesting things like appreciation for a small trailer which was our dressing room. Bruce Carman, a very determined father, seemed to pioneer this huge effort which hundreds of young players enjoyed and benefited from. Some 13 years later Mr. Carman seemed determined to help me with my goal of playing in the NHL and introduced me to Keith Magnuson.
After my youth hockey days with the Falcons, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to play for The Chicago Flames AAA hockey program. Coached primarily by Kenny Rzepecki or (Coach Ken), we traveled a lot in search of the best possible opponents including Finland and most Canadian provinces.
As this new AAA venture was very expensive, I remember my father taking on weekend side jobs to help pay for my hockey which proved to be a huge strain on our household budget. My parents are the real stars in my life as they never complained and just kept encouraging me to pursue my hockey dream. To this day, I admire and am thankful for their leadership and example of parenting. This huge effort all directed towards one of seven siblings, me, is again much appreciated and continues to this day as my brothers and sisters are such a huge part of our own family team.
My junior days in Canada proved to be a great learning experience as I lived with a great host family, the Heber Family. They were a family that my own family hosted when they came down to play our Falcons youth program; how convenient that was years later. They opened their home to me and their loving family to make a hard transition as comfortable as possible.
The next two seasons in Belleville, Ontario, I was the captain for the Belleville Bulls. Doctor Robert Vaughan was the owner of our team, but I really looked to him as a mentor in every aspect of my life. He grew up next door to Bobby Hull and was Bobby’s best man. He was not only a great hockey man but gave to his community and anyone fortunate enough to know him. His unselfishness and desire to help people will forever be a part of me.
My brief professional career included playing in the IHL with the Penguins and Blackhawks farm team.
My next adventure was coaching, which happened right after my competitive playing days were over. My coaching involvement allowed me to create a different level of competitive hockey instruction within a hockey camp called BAD BOY HOCKEY CAMPS. Students were encouraged to compete hard while displaying good sportsmanship. The camps were very successful for several reasons, but primarily we found that the players would work harder knowing that they also had a game each day to look forward to and a shootout at the end of each camp day. Players learn more when competing within a fun environment.
The game has changed dramatically over the years as has the teaching, equipment, and systems. I feel these changes have been very beneficial for all hockey interests, while also maintaining a very high interest for viewership. I look to continue coaching young players and giving back to a game that has been so good to me.