It was with extreme honour that Hot Sauce Sports welcomed Brent Sopel onto the show this week! Selected in the 6th round (144th overall) of the 1995 NHL Draft by the Vancouver Canucks, the Saskatoon native went on to play over 1000 professional hockey games. His career spanned 16 seasons culminating in hockey’s holy grail; the Stanley Cup. Despite reaching the pinnacle in his sport, Sopel couldn’t help but feel alone.
Brent was like many Canadian kids, spending the majority of his free time on a patch of ice in his backyard. Every day, no matter the weather, you could find Brent on the ice, hockey was his passion. He grew up a Habs and Patrick Roy fan, which can explain this irrational love for blocking pucks. Brent loved being a goalie so much that he would take slap shots with a golf ball against a concrete wall so that he could turn his stick around and play goalie!
Brent managed to turn in that backyard rink for something a little bigger when he joined the Western Hockey League before reaching the NHL. Brent quickly developed into a solid Power Play specialist under the guidance of then coach Marc Crawford. His time in Vancouver came to an end after the 2003-04 season, making stops in New York and Los Angeles before signing with the Blackhawks. The rest as they says is history.
After winning the cup with the Blackhawks, Brent went on to play in Atlanta and right here in Montreal, scoring a big playoff goal! After losing a heart breaking series to the Bruins in Overtime in Game 7, Sopel’s career took him to Russia for a couple of season before retiring. As a hockey player or as a pro athlete in general, Brent’s career had a short life span relatively speaking to every day jobs. He was in his thirties, his career was over, and he has lived the ultimate high for a hockey player. What was next?
Before moving forward, you must sometimes go backwards, which for Brent forced him to deal with some demons that he hide his entire life. This moment came when he was 33 years old. His daughter was struggling in school and he took her to get tested and the results were she was diagnosed with Dyslexia and Dysgraphia. Hearing the doctor read the symptoms it finally clicked for Brent, he too had Dyslexia .
Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability (difference) or disorder that affects your ability to read, decode words, spell, write and speak. Something that he had hidden from the world since he was a child. Those days and nights spent on the outdoor rink were for the love of the game, but it was also an escape. An escape from feeling inadequate, from feeling inferior, and allowed Brent to forget about the pain he silently lived with. The real question is what was next, now that he had lost the crutch he leaned on his entire life?
“My legacy will not be hockey, it will this, the Foundation” – Brent Sopel
So what was next? How do you join the business world if you can’t read? Now consider having to answer these questions as a Stanley Cup winner, as someone who has achieved the ultimate goal in your area of expertise. How do you move on when you have achieved your childhood dream and goal?
You change your purpose in life.
The Brent Sopel Foundation is dedicated to providing financial and educational assistance to help students with dyslexia fulfill their potential through early detection and intervention.
It is believed that up to 1 in 5 people are affected by dyslexia, however only 1 in 20 are diagnosed. Meaning that approximately 40 million Americans, and 5 million Canadians suffer with dyslexia, however only 2.25 million of those people have been diagnosed. The severity of the dyslexia is different for everyone, while some succeed despite their differences, many fall victim.
Bill f**ing Gates all have dyslexia.
50% of the people working at Nasa have Dyslexia, however in the same breath, 50% of people in prison in the United States have dyslexia as well. For every success story, there are thousands of people silently succumbing to dyslexia. But one common theme for every success story is that they all had someone believe in them. Brent Sopel wants to be that person for the millions of kids.
3 things that Brent was told as a kid:
1. You’re Dumb
2. You’re Stupid
3. You’re Lazy
For the kids who suffer from dyslexia, Brent has something different to tell you:
You are not alone.