Character is what you do when no one is watching
11-year-old Jake can be seen outside at home, executing his daily routine of shooting fifty-pucks into the net. Be it Soccer, Lacrosse or Ice Hockey, Jake loves to play hard at multiple disciplines. As a teammate, he takes accountability for his communications and owns his personal responsibility in developing his skills through training and repetition. Jake knows better skills afford him more challenging opponents. The more challenging, the more pressure. The more pressure, the more rewarding. He literally has more fun by being more disciplined!
Jake’s big sister Lily has intellectual delays, but she never misses her brother’s sporting games. Loved by his big sister, Jake grew up with the social pressures of a family that is different. Anyone in society who is different doesn’t fit in to the bias of society. Human nature appears to often push back on what’s (initially) different. Until otherwise learned, this nature is an impediment to social connections. But when you make the resolute extra effort to breakthrough, the established connections are richer and deeper. Jake’s sister has helped him to grow up with personal confidence and a mindset inclusive towards all kids.
Combining humility with competence can be such an endearing and powerful combination. Two months into the season, Connor Bedard is a National Hockey League (NHL) rookie who has produced amazing numbers– inspiring Chicago Blackhawk fans and reigniting those who’d gone dormant. A camera and microphone caught Connor as he casually addressed an official on the ice. A dumbfounded expression on his face as he voiced his amazement at not having yet won a single face-off in the game. The seasoned official responded with a snicker of appreciation that the task is truly substantial “when facing Number 87”. This candid moment revealed Connor’s genuine appreciation for his opponent in the circle, Sydney Crosby.
Connor’s Demonstration got me Thinking about Jake
Last month, Jake’s 12u North Stars Elite team played in a hockey tournament in Montreal. Advancing to the championship game, the two teams were tied after regulation minutes ended. Sudden Death Overtime rules included 2-minutes of both goalies in net while skating 4-v-4. If no score, 3-v-3 for two minutes. Then 2-v-2.
The contest was reduced to 1-v-1 with Net Minders tending their respective goals on either end of the ice. Coach chose Jake to carry the pressure for the whole team. Jake’s consistent efforts at skill development paid off!
When I received the cell phone video of Jake scoring the winning goal, I was impressed by the self-control and determined assertion of his will. I shared the video with my friend Gordie Clark who, after playing in the NHL and coaching a Stanley Cup Finals for the Boston Bruins, has spent the past quarter century developing players for two NHL teams. Gordie’s response:
“That must have been a hell of a tournament, final game, final minute !!!!
Jake had a plan for that face-off win and great finish top shelf, short side.”
But Wait, There’s More Character to be Seen!
Jake’s father’s appreciation of this feedback exposed more of the story. Playing internationally, the two teams had shaken hands before the contest. Following the winning goal and award ceremony, (about 20-minutes in duration), Jake got up and left his team. In search of the boy he had bested, he went skating amongst the other team. Finding him still crying, Jake respectfully extended his hand and congratulated him for playing a good game. The positive gesture visibly lightened the boy’s mood. After all, it truly had been a good game!
Gordie’s assessment of this part of the story was precisely why I consider him my BFF:
“Interesting thing is he couldn’t have had a plan for his gesture of reaching out to the player that obviously feels he lost the game for his team!
I would be all over that kid in 5/6 years for my team knowing the character he has caring for his sister and a broken opponent. Not enough players are coming from youth sports with this kind of character !!”
No Man is an Island
Lily is an integral part of Jake’s life. So far at this young age, Jake Hume has become someone who can navigate his own way through life, regardless of the shoes he’s in. He’s coachable. He’s determined. Possessing a heightened level of appreciation, he’ll be able to learn and grow through most anything because of his mindset and his heart. Despite his youth, Jake commands the Driver’s Seat of his life to a degree many adults aspire to!
When it comes to demonstrating character in-the-moment. Jake has a very defined “celebration” discipline he adheres to:
- His first goal in a game – he points directly to his sister.
- The second goal, Jake points to Mom.
- Achieving the hat trick, Jake smiles at his Old Man.
Most importantly, Lily never misses her brother’s games.