Hockey may more and more be a sport for the wealthy, but Chilliwack’s Ian Heagy is proof that persistence and passion can get a player noticed, no matter the circumstances.
When the teenager joins the Finlandia University Lions in the American Collegiate Hockey Association this fall, he’ll make the jump to NCAA Div 2 hockey having never played a minute of rep hockey.
“So many times I thought this wasn’t going to happen,” Heagy said with a smile on his face.
Heagy has spent his entire career at the house level. In high school he trained at the Sardis secondary hockey academy, and as a third-year midget he skated in the Pacific Coast Amateur Hockey Association’s (PCAHA) annual ‘Scholarship Tournament,’ but he’s not done any of the usual ‘look at me’ stuff. He hasn’t played for a prestigious program or played in a prestigious tournament. He hasn’t been part of a junior hockey team at any level, and so he shouldn’t be doing what he’s about to do.
Players taking the path he’s taken just don’t get seen, but the right eyeballs saw the right video clip of Ian flying around the ice, and here we are.
“When I saw the message from the (Finlandia) coach, I was very excited,” he said. “I ran upstairs, handed my mom the phone and said, ‘I don’t know what this is.’ It was thrilling for sure.”
Through the years, many people told him he was good enough to play at a higher level. A self-taught skater who patterns his skating and edgework after Pittsburgh Penguins star Sid ‘the Kid’ Crosby, Heagy gets around the ice in a hurry and has the skill to make things happen when he gets to his destination.
Mom Jen Heagy saw it when she watched him play. She didn’t need anyone to tell her that he was good enough. But as much as she wanted to give her son rep hockey, the financial and time commitments were something she could never make work as a single mother to Ian and two other children.
“My parents did everything in their power to make sure I could live to my full potential, and I wanted to do that for my kids too,” she said. “But the fees alone for rep are so much more, and the travel is so much more. In atom, a lot of his rep friends were going to North Vancouver just to play one evening game.
“We had help from his grandparents just to keep him in house and get him into the academy program at school.”
Ian knew he wasn’t the only player in this boat and he found a way regardless. Two of his close friends shared his passion and big-league dreams for the longest time, but both fell off when they realized it probably wasn’t going to happen.
“They wanted to stop hockey, but I didn’t. I wanted to keep going,” he said. “Hockey has been everything (to me). It’s just joy when I’m playing.”
And that, more than anything explains why he now has this opportunity. Each step of the way he never gave up and kept working hard. If a little house player with big dreams was put in front of him right now, that’s what he would say.
“What you’re dreaming of can come true,” he said. “It may not seem like it, but push as hard as you can.”