Wednesday, March 10, 2010

University Education an Important Step for Former Ottawa 67's Captain Will Colbert


This article is in the March 2010 edition of Main Street and is reprinted here with the permission of the editors. Drop by www.mainstreetweeknews.com to have a look at a great community newspaper.

When writing my columns for Main Street, I always attempt to find interesting athletes with ties to the Laurentian area. Having said that, I also feel quite strongly that an inspirational story knows no borders or boundaries. Such is the case this month, with the story of Will Colbert, a hockey player from Arnprior Ontario.

Colbert was a member and captain of the Ottawa 67’s in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) during his junior career. An all-star in the OHL, he also won the 67’s award as their Scholastic Player of the Year in 2004 for combining academic achievement and on-ice excellence. Selected in the seventh round by the Ottawa Senators in the 2003 entry draft, Colbert made the decision to continue his education at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia instead of entering the NHL’s minor leagues. With the support of his parents, he could complete his education while continuing to play hockey.

“It was a worry for my Mom and Dad when I left home at 17 to go play with the 67’s, education was their biggest concern,” said Colbert on the telephone from Worcester Massachusetts. “An education was also very important to me; I skipped my last year in Ottawa as an overage player to go to school. I decided I wanted to get my degree so I figured I would leave junior hockey and do it, and then I could get on with playing pro if I still had the opportunity.”

However, a surprise was waiting for Colbert and his family during the summer of 2005. Since he had never signed a contract with the Senators, he automatically went back into the NHL Draft and the San Jose Sharks selected him in the sixth round of the 2005 entry draft one month before his University career was about to begin.

“I had committed to go to school, not knowing I would be drafted again, so I stuck with that commitment,” said Colbert. “San Jose respected that and said that they were going to keep an eye on me there.”

With his junior career in Ottawa behind him, Colbert focused on obtaining his degree in Kinesiology at St. Francis Xavier, while continuing his hockey career. Demonstrating his leadership skills and maturity, he would become the captain of his University team as well. The lessons learnt in the classroom were applied to his hockey career.

“The hockey is a big step up from junior, which a lot of people don't always know. It rivals NCAA hockey (American University hockey), it is underrated, but it was a lot of fun,” said Colbert. “I understand so much more about the body now, things I am dealing with every day, so school was definitely beneficial.”

In his first year of professional hockey, Colbert has split his time between the Kalamazoo Wings in the East Coast Hockey League and the Worcester Sharks in the American Hockey League. The learning curve has increased again for Colbert, as he adjusts to the life of a professional hockey player and an 80 game schedule.

“I don't have school to worry about, I don't have to come home and study,” said Colbert. “So I am not finding the schedule too bad, but it is definitely an adjustment physically playing 80 games as opposed to 28 (in University). You have to move the puck so much quicker here, having to make plays. I am really working on moving the puck quick and smart.”

Colbert is a tremendous example for young hockey players everywhere, with a hockey career in the AHL or perhaps the NHL awaiting him, he made the important decision to complete his education. As he works his way up through the various levels of pro hockey, he already possesses a very valuable asset, a University degree. Have a great sports day everyone.

Photo by Dinur on Flickr.

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