Former hockey star finds calling with training program

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As a former Division I hockey All-American whose career reached the upper levels of the minor leagues, Steve Wood knows a thing or two about passion, drive and commitment, and all those other little intangibles that are essential to chasing one’s dreams.

Yet the Canton father of three would also be the first to admit that in his case, there was something holding him back — something that he did not quite see at the time that he believes kept him from realizing his ultimate goal.

Steve Wood

Steve Wood

“I think I had the ability to play in the [National Hockey League]; actually, I know I did,” insisted Wood, an offensive-minded defenseman whose professional career included stops in the AHL, ECHL and Europe. “But I think it rested in the mind to some degree.”

It is a sobering acknowledgment to be sure, and one that took years to fully wrap his head around. But it is also one that, in the end, steered Wood out of a career path that he found entirely unfulfilling and back to his first love of hockey.

Armed with the full support of his wife, a budding entrepreneur herself, Wood decided this past year to quit his job in the IT field and focus all of his efforts on a new online training venture for young hockey players that he has dubbed “Beyond the Ice.”

Drawing on his own experiences as a player as well as the expertise of current professional players and coaches, Beyond the Ice offers a “unique virtual classroom experience” that combines coaching and hockey instruction with “comprehensive mindset training” and powerful life lessons.

It is that second component that Wood believes sets his program apart from other instructional hockey programs and it is also the piece that he is most passionate about.

“This is about building character through hockey, but it’s really about building character in general,” explained Wood. “Maybe hockey is not even your number-one sport, but when you come in and you have the conversations we’re going to have, you’re going to think differently. It may not be how many goals you’re going to score, but it might be about where your life is headed in general.”

While he plans to expand the offerings and also incorporate on-ice components in the future, Wood said the signature program, which launches next month, will consist of seven one-hour sessions conducted live online. Classes will be divided by age groups (7-10, 11-14 and 15+), and while the content and delivery will be catered to meet the needs of each specific group, Wood said the core messages will be the same.

In addition to focused hockey instruction and video breakdowns, each session will have a theme — from the power of failure to the importance of good body language to following one’s “inner GPS” (decision making/intuition). Participants will be supplied with age-appropriate reading materials, and parents will receive a follow-up summary/action plan upon completion of the program.

Wood will also be bringing in a number of guest speakers, including Canton hockey legend Kevin Rooney, who is currently with the New Jersey Devils; veteran NHL defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, a former teammate of Wood’s who played seven seasons with the Boston Bruins; and Matt Curran, a former Providence College hockey player who overcame a devastating spinal cord injury and launched the 33 Foundation to help others in their recovery from similar injuries.

“Not all of the messages will necessarily be hockey related, but all of it will be powerful,” said Wood. “And the big message from me is that if you’ve found whatever it is you love to do, then you’ve already won.”

But the other key, according to Wood, is having the right mindset — a lesson that he wishes he had learned back when he was at the top of his game.

Instead, Wood said it hit him like a ton of bricks last summer while watching a televised segment on a USA Olympic swimmer. The swimmer had recalled a letter he had written in school about his goals for the future, in which he proudly shared his plans to make it to the Olympics and break the record in the 100 meters.

Remembering that he had written a similar letter as a seventh grader, Wood went into his attic and dug it out. “I found it right away,” he said. “In the letter I wrote that I wanted to play college hockey, and I do want to play in the NHL, but the minors would be okay too.”

Wood said that last part was painful to re-read but also very illuminating. “I kind of got a gut-wrenching feeling, like wow, at a young age I said that not achieving the ultimate player’s goal was okay, so when I reached that time in my life it was almost as if I did what I had set out to do.”

Wood said seeing that letter again, combined with seeing his wife so energized and happy with her business venture, inspired him to make a major change in his life.

“It was a couple months later that I actually left my [IT] job,” he said, “but the truth is I’ve always had it in mind to figure out how to get back into hockey; I just didn’t know how or what exactly I was going to do.”

With Beyond the Ice, Wood now feels as if he has answered those questions, and he is literally counting down the moments until his first course on July 12 — as evidenced by the large virtual countdown clock on his homepage at www.gobeyondtheice.com.

Going forward, Wood hopes to expand his offerings to include private and small group on-ice sessions at the Canton Ice House. He would also like to establish a “buddy program” to support hockey players with special needs along with some additional virtual programming.

He admits he is a little nervous as he prepares for his first virtual classroom, but he is confident in the program that he has developed and is all-in on his mission of “building character through hockey.”

“I still have a lot of work to do logistically, but I’m really excited and I know I’m in the right place,” said Wood. “It wasn’t an easy decision — to switch careers and to start something new — but it was the right one for me, no doubt about it.”

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avatar Posted by on Jun 30 2017. Filed under Beyond CHS, Sports, Youth Sports. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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