Picture by John Warren, Brampton Beast
Andrew “The Mayor” D’Agostini is a Goaltender we can all be inspired by. He took the road less travelled to professional Hockey, going the CIS route at the University of Guelph after a great Career with the Peterborough Petes of the OHL. But what’s more inspirational is his Passion to make the World around him better, a passion he and I share. I really don’t need to say anymore because after asking him for the quote I usually include, Andrew sent me something truly amazing which is included in full. He’s a great Tender and Inspirational human being and I’m proud to know him.
Here I have the opportunity to rant about a topic in goaltending, and for that matter, any position, that I feel is very important. Of course I am targeting goaltenders because I am one, but the lesson applies to any young player with hopes and dreams of playing professional hockey… most pros have this figured out by now. I am going to try to get right to the point and use my own experience to help make clear the idea of having balance. And by balance I do not mean to stand single leg on a balance board with your eyes closed while simultaneously juggling three balls, although that would be pretty impressive. I am going to touch on the importance of balancing your life both on and off the ice, at the rink and away from the rink.
My name is Andrew D’Agostini and I am the current goalie for the Brampton Beast, University of Guelph and Peterborough Pete’s Alumni. Over the course of my career I have had the privilege of instructing, and playing alongside many great goalies. Some of these goalies accomplished their dreams of playing professional hockey, whether in North America or overseas; others have chosen to hang up the skates and pursuit a different career path.
I have read many articles about how goalies should hold their glove, or when and when not to drop into a RVH position etc. But I do not see enough about how goalies should create balance in their life to ensure the longevity of their career. Goalie parents often ask me about what their kid should be doing in the summer or away from the rink. While there is certainly work to be put in away from the rink (strength training, yoga, hand eye..), it is also extremely important to have other interests. By having other interests or hobbies away from the rink, young goalies can show up at the arena fresh and ready to learn among many other benefits. For me it started with music. I have been playing the drums since I was 12 and recently learned the guitar, and they are both extremely nice breaks from the rink. It’s also very therapeutic and a great way to channel your anger after playing an unflattering game.
Growing up in the summers, of course I went to goalie camps, but rarely ever more than one or two per summer. I played competitive soccer for eight years, which served as my balance. I would spend the summer building my endurance in the heat, and spend the winters in the cold rink. After being drafted to the OHL I had to quit playing competitive soccer due to the time commitment, but I credit soccer for a lot of my athleticism, but more importantly my hunger to get back in the rink in September.
As a Peterborough Pete we took pride in community involvement. My balance in the OHL, and has continued to this day, is my involvement with charity. I have been an advocate for Cystic Fibrosis since 2011 and spearheaded an initiative called Saves 4 CF, which raises a dollar for every save from local sponsors. These community events became my balance away from the rink, and as anyone who has contributed to their community knows, it is extremely fulfilling. It has therefore transferred over to my performance on the ice once again.
As a varsity athlete, school was my balance. I would finish practice in the morning and spend the rest of the day on campus, whether it was in class or in the library. School was so demanding as a varsity athlete that if forced me to become extremely efficient at the rink. This meant no fooling around. Get on the ice as early as it was available and get my strength training in as soon as I was done. The price and demand for ice these days has been a huge limitation for minor hockey players. For this reason they are forced to get as much out of their hour as possible. Balancing a full semester with varsity hockey was a constant reminder of how precious my time on the ice was. And has lead me to have more efficient practices now as a pro. For those young goalies out there.. make the most of your practice time!
I don’t disagree with parents who say that playing hockey is a full time job. It is getting more and more competitive climbing the ranks in minor, junior and pro hockey and certainly requires off-season training and extra time spent improving yourself as a player. But my message for young players is to have something to fall back on, something to take your mind off the game every once in a while, and you will find that this is actually beneficial to your career.
All the best pursuing your dreams.. and never give up,