Inspirational hockey dad Karl Subban reminded Red Deer College athletes to believe in their potential as they chase their dreams.
The father of three professional hockey players, including NHL all-star P.K. Subban, said P.K. has and will face doubts and doubters and that’s why it’s important to have a strong belief system.
“I say believe in your potential because it will never let you down. No one should doubt it and no one should ever underestimate it,” said Subban after speaking before a crowd of 400 at the 15th annual Kings & Queens Scholarship Breakfast at Harvest Centre at Westerner Park on Wednesday morning.
Subban, a former school principal in one of Toronto’s toughest neighbourhoods, said adults need to speak to children more about potential.
“A lot of young people feel they can’t do it. I always used to tell them maybe you can’t do it today, but you can do it tomorrow,” said Subban whose memoir How We Did It: The Subban Plan for Success in Hockey, School, and Life has become a national best seller.
He said sports gives children something to do and love.
“It gives so many of them, us, a dream and that’s how it starts in terms of unlocking your potential. It starts with unlocking a dream.”
He said his sons are living their dreams and it’s important for young people to chase their dreams, but they will face adversity.
“They will face challenges. The world will not always treat them or speak to them the way we want it to. But we don’t want them to stop. We don’t want them to give up,” he said in reference to a story he told the breakfast crowd about how a coach tried to discourage P.K. from hockey.
“When that coach told P.K., ‘You’ll never make it in hockey. You’ll never go as far as I did,’ it didn’t stop him. I always ask young people what’s stopping you?
“Facing criticism, that’s all part of the process. It’s not what’s happening to you, it’s how you deal with it. If you can’t deal with criticism, if you can’t deal with the challenges and adversities, you’re not going to make it. That’s just life in general.”
He said that’s why he loved that his children were in sports because it taught them some important life skills. Sports is like having an extra parent.
“They have to learn to deal with winning. They have to learn to deal with losing. Maybe they don’t get what they think they should get. Those are important life skills. Those things make you better. Sometimes we want to protect our children from those things which they need to be better. Adversity is one of them. I call adversity life’s Buckley’s. It doesn’t taste good, but it’s good for you.”
Subban said adults also don’t spend enough time talking to children and youth about the reality that people will not always treat them the way they need to be treated and that they’re not what people say they are.
“They need to know that — you’re not that. You’re more than that. You can be more than that, even though it hurts. They need to know that feeling will go away. That feeling will disappear.”
He said young people need to be encouraged to speak to their parents, siblings, school staff or coaches to help them through their pain.
“A lot of times they feel they’re the only ones going through it and sometimes if the relationship with the significant people in their lives are not strong, it leaves them alone and loneliness can be very damaging. It can be very, very damaging and consequential.”