Imagine being 14 years old, in Grade 9, and every single day you are living your dream. Such is the life for Hayden Ostir.
Hayden (Hammy) Ostir is a Winnipeg boy attending the Pursuit of Excellence Hockey Academy in Kelowna, B.C. Hayden has been there for about four months and he basically lives, eats, and breathes hockey.
"It’s fun, it’s the best thing. All you really do is hockey," Hayden says. "I go there for the school year and will come back home for the summer."
This is a typical week day for Hayden: 7-8:15 a.m., workout; 9 a.m.-noon, school, 1-3 p.m., practice; 4-5:30 p.m., dry land/skills training. When the weekend rolls around Hayden will play either two exhibition-style games or up to five games in tournament play.
The school day is short but intense, and an aspect the Academy takes very seriously. Part of its philosophy is that schooling is the No. 1 priority for all the athletes.
Hayden plays centre, and he is darned good. He is known as a character player whose effort and hard work is seldom matched. I asked Hayden where his work ethic comes from.
"My dad (Grant Ostir). He went pretty far in hockey. He’s been coaching me since I was four."
No surprise who Hayden’s favorite player is.
"Jonathan Toews. He is a great leader and he works harder than anyone."
Hayden is the quintessential 200-foot player, the rare kid who skates as hard to backcheck as he does when he has a chance to score.
"Some guys just think offence. You have to support your defence and prevent goals. That’s what wins you games."
Hayden is always working to improve.
"I want to be more consistent, play my best and smartest on a more consistent level."
I love athletes like Hayden, whose work ethic knows no ceiling.
His ultimate goal, like those all of the other young men he is around, is to make the NHL. I’m cheering for you Hayden, go get it.
Former Winnipeg Blue Bombers kicker Troy Westwood is co-host of The Big Show, every weekday morning from 6 to 10 a.m. on TSN 1290 radio. He writes about Winnipeg’s unsung sports heroes every other week in the Canstar Community News weeklies.