Over the years I have read a number of Hockey books, I remember in high school reading my father's copy of Black & White & Never Right by Vern Buffey and about a decade later Fire on Ice by Eric Lindros. But this book is so much more than just a hockey story, and even more than an amazing story about three brothers who all have made it to the National Hockey League. In many ways this book is more about life, about parenting, about setting standards, about pursuing goals, and teaching thank just guys who achieved what many just dream of.
This book is a treasure trove of wisdom. Anyone who works with children, or who has children would benefit from reading this book. This book is built from Karl and Maria Subban years of parenting, and also Karl's decades as a teacher, principal and administrator in the Ontario School system. The book covers Karl's story, about coming to Canada, becoming Canadian, and a a Canadian's fan. It also is about the whole family raising all five Subban children; Nastassia, Natasha, P.K., Malcolm and Jordan. The chapters in this book are:
Dedication 1: How We Did It 2: It Starts with a Dream 3: The Making of a Canadian-and a Canadiens Fans 4: Waking the Sleeping Giant 5: A Difference Maker 6: Parenthood 7: Minor Hockey 8: The Twenty-Four-Hour Rule 9: Malcolm in the Middle 10: Bullish on Belleville 11: Lessons from the Schoolyard 12: The Subban Hat Trick 13: The Dream Becomes a Reality 14: Eyes on the Prize 15: The Second Dream EPILOGUE: Growing Up Subban
Karl states that the expectations placed upon his growing up were the same ones he tried to instill in his children. He says:
"There were four expectations placed on me, like a licence plate on a car, and they came from my parents, my extended family and the community. These expectations were as ubiquitous as the hot Jamaican sun. They were always there in my conscious and unconscious mind: 1. Work hard in school. 2. Behave well, watch your manners and always respect your elders. 3. Look clean and neat, especially outside the home. 4. Be good at something and make your family proud. These expectations set the tone for the early years of my childhood and, much later, influenced the expectations I had for my own children."
There are stories of sacrifice and commitment in the book. And there is also an open honesty about mistakes. Karl shares the story of pulling P.K. from the middle of a game. And not following the 24-hour rule before making a big decision. In the end it worked out but created a lot of stress for the family, and for Karl personally regret in how he handled it.
When Karl was an administrator at a struggling school he came up with an approach to instill confidence, and respect. It focused around a school credo and new way to focus. Karl recalls:
"Before dismissing students to their classrooms, we had one final piece of business. Students had to repeat after me our new Brookview Middle School credo: My potential lies inside me. It gives me the ability to reach for something, to become something better. Then I would continue with the second part: "I come to school to work hard to be a better person and to be a better student by using the Four T's: Time, Task, Training and Team." Students had to learn why they walked through the school doors every morning. Plus, they needed to know how to achieve their goals. What they thought, what they believed and what they did was relevant to the success I wanted for them and the potential I saw in them. Without a belief in their own potential, all effort would be futile. I would tell them that the reason they come to school is to work, to be a better student and to be a better person, and that they were born with the potential to do it. Just set your goal, I would say, believe in your potential and start working. After an orderly dismissal from the cafetorium, the students were led to their classrooms by the teachers, who started each session with what I call SLICE. S: standing L: looking and listening I: I messages. Students were engaged by asking themselves the following I Messages after the teacher had given them instructions or taught a mini lesson (about twenty minutes): Do I understand the information or instructions? Do I know what to do? Do I have a question? C: completing the work E: doing exemplary work Students were not allowed to sit if they had a question. If teachers were doing their job and knew their students, they would be able to tell who was struggling. Teachers were reminded that six out of ten students were not getting what they were teaching.
SLICE was my main strategy for closing the achievement gap between the 40 percent who were learning up to expectations and the 60 percent who were missing in action during the lesson.
One day during the morning assembly, staff and students were introduced to the Brookview Values. A large mural was painted on one wall in the cafetorium, displaying the values that would govern the behaviour of staff and students: Respect, Responsibility, Organization, Punctuality, Kind and Caring, and High Expectations. During assemblies I would often have hundreds of voices shouting out each value at the same time."
These are the same values and lessens that have been instilled in all 5 of the Subban children. Karl shares a few stories about students he has run into sometimes years later and the impact his teaching and modeling of behavior had upon them. He also shares stories about parents or children sharing with him how P.K.'s charity work, especially at the Montreal Children's Hospital has impacted them.
There are stories about all three boy's and their time with the Belleville Bulls. As well as stories about injuries and desperately trying to get to their child's side.
When reading other hockey books, such as those by Tie Domi or Wendel Clark's I came away from the book learning a few things about the player or their career that I did not know. And a few fun stories. This book goes to a much deeper level. This book has inspired me to try harder, to seek improvement. Improvement as a father, as a husband as a man. This book has both inspired and challenged me. My children might be too old to get into Hockey, as much as the oldest two would love to, but it is not to late to instill a #TeamMcEvoy plan along that modeled by #TeamSubban.
I was a P.K. fan since his entry into the NHL, as a lifelong Habs fan I still cheer for Montreal. But I follow the predators because of P.K. and have been very impressed with Malcolm and his role in the Vegas Golden Knights success this season. But this book has helped me to appreciate them more. And I look forward to following the three boys in hockey and their lives after.
This book is an incredible read. My wife is not much of a reader, but I showed it to her while watching a playoff game recently. She read the first two chapters on my phone while continuing to listen to the game. She works at a company that does cognitive assessments and helps children achieve educational or behavioral Breakthroughs. From just the first few chapters she had a few quotes she wanted to share with her team at work.
Early in the book Karl states:
"As a Toronto public school principal, I would often give a room of students a simple proposition: "Anyone who wants to be better, raise your hand." Every hand shot up. That should come as no surprise-every child wants to be better. The problem is too many don't believe they can be.
There is a crisis today among our children. I saw it in the Toronto schools where I worked, and I see it today at the hockey arenas and in the playgrounds and on the streets and in the shopping malls. Too many children are adrift, too many children lack the direction and love and the support they need to be better. For these children there is no adult, or not enough adults, willing to step in, step up and lead the way till those children can find their own way."
He also stresses:
"Whether it was our five children, or the thousands of kids I taught or coached, or the school board staff I worked with, or my grandchildren today, I see everyone the same way; I see each person carrying a gift inside them that they are born with, and that gift is their potential. It has been my job as a father, as a principal and as a leader to develop that potential. And I deliberately don't say "reach" that potential because I don't believe a person ever reaches their true potential. That is something you should always be striving for, no matter how old you are."
And that is part of what makes this book so good. It is not just about three brothers making it in Hockey. It is about how to help other achieve their potential and how to strive to achieve our own.
I recommend this book to every parent, every grandparent, to everyone who works with children. It will give you new insight and open your eyes. It will inspire, challenge and encourage you to work towards that potential in yourself, and to bring it out in others.
Maria and Carl have five children. Their family has extraordinary athletic ability that led three sons to play in the National Hockey League. This inspiring books looks at how hockey affected one minority couple move from Jamaica to Canada. Their tale is one of perseverance, overcoming challenges and hard work. Lessons on how to set goals, develop plans, and work with people. Their story recognizes how hockey injuries and a stereotype that minorities cannot skate affected relationships with coaches and other hockey parents. The story will resonate with hockey players and their families. Parents and educators will enjoy the uplifting messages.
I received this book through a Goodreads giveaway. Although encouraged, I was under no obligation to write a review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.