The Whyte Stuff: I owe it all to my father, but he did zero for my hockey career
Recently, my father passed away, and although we could see it coming, it still deeply hurt and I miss him every day.
A couple of days after his passing, I flew back to Canada to be with family and friends and help my sister handle his affairs. During the open house, my sister hosted, we shared food, drink and many stories about my father. There were well over 100 people that came through that evening, each and every one with a special heartwarming memory that made us all smile and/or laugh.
A few of my hockey buddies I grew up with were there as well, and after sharing numerous tales, I pondered about what my father did to affect my hockey career.
The answer is, he did nothing!
Not once did my father ever approach my coach to tell him that I was being mistreated. In no way did he ever say that I was not being played enough, or demanded I be on special teams. He never, ever approached a scout, manager, or coach in the stands to lobby for me to be noticed. And he absolutely never told me to go shoot pucks, work out or get ready for practice.
Nope. He had zero to do with my hockey.
That is except for the countless hours and dollars he spent for me to live what I love. That is except for the steadfast support he bestowed, through thick and thin. That is except for the unyielding love and respect he portrayed towards me and the game.
Throughout my upbringing, my father was consistent with the messages he wanted me to learn. They always involved being hardworking, honest and passionate. He showed me how to be someone with integrity and pride, and a person that could be relied upon.
My dad was a big, burly man that had a presence to him. However, he was extremely kind and conscientious of others around him. He knew how to take the lead, and every time he did, people backed him. They knew that if he was determined to get something done, it would get done.
I remember after my rookie year with the Phoenix Roadrunners, I headed back to Canada to help my parents build a house on a river in the middle of the woods. When I say we built a house, I truly mean we built a house – everything from the foundation, to the plumbing, framework, siding, roofing, drywall, paint and floors. While finishing up the layout for the foundation, I can remember my father ripping everything out of the ground to start over because the line was off by a quarter of an inch over a 60-foot stretch.
When I exclaimed to him that small of a difference didn’t matter, he reminded me that if I am ever to set my mind to do something, make sure I do it right. That house was such an amazing place…
I cannot remember a time when I didn’t fight my own battles, or was not held accountable for my actions. If I was ever wronged, or life was not treating me fairly, my parents were always there to offer me support and guidance. They imparted in me the tools to fix my problems, but they never intervened or tried to settle anything for me.
Everything that I have accomplished, both in hockey and in life, I owe to my father. I couldn’t have asked for a better role model in my life or a stronger willed man to emulate. He was my hero, and although he has told me numerous times how proud he was of me, the feeling was always mutual.
Sean Whyte is the director of hockey operations and coach-in-chief at DYHA.