Team: Coquitlam Express BCHL Junior A
Hometown: St Paul, MN
Birth Year: 1998
Weight: 185 lbs
Chosen Attribute: Excellence
Why is this important to you?
As far back as I can remember, not doing my best was never an option. My parents had an expectation that if they were going to sign me up for an activity, all of us would be all in. Dad would usually coach, mom would manage the team and every day was an opportunity to get better (whether the team had a scheduled practice or not). I loved whatever sport season I was in so it wasn’t work, it was fun.
In high school, I got to play 4 varsity sports until my senior year when I had to really start focusing on my favorite, hockey. That was until my friends convinced me playing football my senior year would be a blast. It was a lot of fun and in no time, it was hockey season. With 10 seniors on our team it was a game none of us would have missed. I can’t begin to thank Coach Moose for demanding a level of excellence none of us would have ever achieved if he hasn’t demanded it.
One of the unique opportunities I had my senior year was to attend Northwestern University as a full-time duel enrollment program. Along with getting to experience a challenging college curriculum, the online schedule provided flexibility to spend time with junior teams and get an early start at preparing for that level.
That summer I was drafted, made it through main camp and got to see my goal of playing at the next level come to fruition. Within weeks of my junior hockey debut, I was dealt an injury that would end my weekend early. My teeth were on the receiving end of a defenseman trying to clear a puck out of the zone. As much pain as this brought and though the months of dental visits to try save a couple remaining chicklets were not fun, the instant stardom I received from the fans made it seem as a badge of honor.
Though I always worked hard for every opportunity I got and was extremely fortunate to have great coaches and mentors along the way, nothing could have prepared me for what lie ahead. Less than a month after losing several teeth, I suffered another injury that would put me in rehab for nearly 2 months. Not the start to my junior hockey career I was hoping for. I was about to find out how bad I really liked the game of hockey.
An annual camp I attended every year was a hockey camp in Niagara Falls, NY where I had my first opportunity to see firsthand college and pro players talk openly about their Faith and how God used hockey as a platform to not only grow them but to also reach others for Christ. A church life was important to our family growing up and I was rare we missed a weekend service. Sunday school, Awana and youth groups were what I thought everyone did on Sundays and Wednesdays.
So, with my team continuing and me sitting at home, adversity was smack dab in front of me. I don't think the thought of not pushing through it ever entered my mind. Hebrews 12:11-12 tells us "No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it."
Hard work and discipline are the name of the game for any player that wants to play past high school so the first part of this verse made perfect sense to me. Humbleness though, often has to come before righteousness and righteousness before peace. I was being humbled and taught a valuable lesson.
I would love to say God honored my discipline, hard work and righteous behavior and gave me an amazing season to follow. But it appears the lesson of perseverance wasn't over because upon returning to play, it would find myself in and out of the lineup the rest of the season.
I now had a choice to make on whether to call it quits and just go to college or double down, continue pursuing college hockey opportunities and redefine what perseverance means to me. I chose the ladder and decided not only would I ramp up training, I took the challenge up another notch and went to a tryout for one of the top teams in the bchl...a team that would be full of committed returners and thus few if any spots to be had.
Spring camp went well, the summer training was very productive and everything was looking good as I made it through the initial cuts at the fall main camp. Just when I felt everything was heading in the right direction, I got cut. My faith was strong and within an hour, those who had poured into me physically and spiritually over the years were stepping up to help. Any arrow the enemy was throwing at me that day didn't even put a scratch on my armor.
Within 24 hours, I would find my new home for the season in Coquitlam, British Columbia. Excellence, discipline and perseverance was beginning to pay off and I truly felt at peace throughout all the trials this time. Though this is likely only one small hill conquered thus far, I am inspired to continue persevering so that when this phase is over I'll be able even more prepared for the next.
What is your favorite scripture verse? Why is this important to you?
1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.”
These verses speak to me because pushing to be the best is all I know. I’ve never been a good loser and I don’t see Paul being one either. The only thing worse that losing is when I cross the line and get sent to the locker room early. So I discipline myself to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Same goes with my faith. I hope to continue growing in this area so as platforms come to share with others, I will not be disqualified because of previous lack of discipline.
How did you hear about FCA Hockey?
Parents asked me if I wanted to go to a hockey camp in New York.
What else should we know about you (future goals in hockey, family members, what church do you go to, favorite stuff outside of hockey, etc.)
My immediate goal is to obtain a scholarship at a division I university to pursue a degree in engineering and continue playing hockey. I’ve always had an interest in engineering so while still in high school, my dad and I traveled across the country touring all the top ranked engineering schools. It’s pretty cool to see these same schools recruiting players in the league I’m getting the opportunity to play in this year.
I have 2 older brothers (Chad and Cory) and 2 younger sisters (Rebecca and Madelyn), all hockey players. Rebecca is playing for Grand Canyon University in Phoenix Arizona this year for their inaugural season. My younger sister plays for Gentry Academy on their U19 Tier I team.
Outside of hockey, our family attends Eaglebrook church in White Bear Lake as well as a long list of churches my parents find us while away from home. I’ve had the fortune of doing a lot of traveling through playing other sports such baseball traveling teams that venture down South in the Winter or running track at AAU Junior Olympic events in the summer. Through junior hockey and family travel over the years, I’ve been to nearly every state in the country and a few years ago spent several weeks in Europe.
Posted on Wed, November 8, 2017
by Rick Randazzo