LANGLEY, British Columbia - When it comes to the Trinity Western men’s hockey team, there isn’t exactly a tried and true path in which players arrived.
A number played junior hockey. Some played high level minor hockey. And a few were plucked out of here, there and everywhere.
One, however, took a path in which for five seasons – during a hockey player’s most formative years – he didn’t even play hockey at all.
That would be Spartans defenceman and sometimes forward Scott Holmes.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound blueliner, who turned 23 this past December, has found himself right at home in the BCIHL, where he’s carved out a tidy three-year career; this year and last year with Trinity Western and, prior to that, one year with Fraser Valley. But it was his route to get here that wasn’t exactly well-trodden or fancifully groomed. But, in reality, it’s actually kind of fitting, as his hockey career on the whole has been anything but normal.
Growing up in Abbotsford, B.C., Holmes was all over the place in terms of how he fit into the system.
He started off as a defenceman in his early days. Then, in atom and peewee, he was deemed too small to play on the back end, so he played forward until his first year of bantam when he, despite still not having yet hit his growth spurt, was sent back to the blueline.
But leading up to and during his first year of bantam hockey, Holmes started to have knee problems and eventually was forced him to quit hockey, and for that matter, cease playing sports all together.
Having consulted with a variety of doctors and physiotherapists – including one who worked on English soccer player David Beckham’s knee – Holmes discovered his best option would be to simply wait until his was finished growing and just give his knee time to heal. Other than surgery, which would have kept him out of hockey for a few years anyway, this was his only choice.
So five years went by before he was able to play again.
“I didn’t really play video games very much and then suddenly I was playing a lot of video games,” Holmes said when describing his years of forced inactivity.
When he was younger, he was one the ice all the time. And by all the time, he means 10 to 11 times per week. Then in the summer he would play on two different club teams plus ample road hockey in between.
So, taking one year off felt like a lifetime. Five years? Well that was an eternity.
So when he finally got back on the ice as an 18-year-old, albeit just playing recreationally, he was antsy to get back to a high level of play.
Unfortunately for Holmes, a quick ascension back up the hockey ladder didn’t quite happen.
“When I first started playing I was so bad,” Holmes said of his first drop-in experience. “I couldn’t shoot or pass and I didn’t want to play anymore. I could still skate but…anything I used to be able to do, I couldn’t do anymore. It was very frustrating.”
And he might have quit if not for a few friends and the investment he had made in equipment.
It was his friends who made him keep coming out until he improved and the $1000 he spent on new gear guilted him back onto the ice.
“After all that money I spent, I was like I have to give this a good try,” Holmes said. “I was just expecting to play men’s rec league for the rest of my life. Turned out there were other plans in the works.”
Sometimes in recreational hockey when a player does something a little showboat-like, plays a little too rough or takes the game a little too seriously, a common refrain can be heard. Something to the effect of, “I see you’re hoping to catch the eye of one of the scouts in the stands.” Everyone assumes it to be a joke because rare is the day, or in most cases never is the day, when an eagle-eye descends upon a rec league game looking for the next star.
As it happened, Holmes experienced that day.
A couple of years after returning to the ice, in the summer of 2009, Holmes got to talking to Randy Zinn, who was, at the time, both the coach of the now-defunct University of Fraser Valley hockey club and the manager of the league in which Holmes had played his rec hockey. At the time of the conversation, Holmes was giving Zinn $8.00 to play drop-in hockey at lunch at Abbotsford’s Centre Ice Arena. Shortly after their chat, Holmes hopped on the ice for a drop-in session that turned out to be his tryout.
By the fall of 2009, he was a member of Fraser Valley – taking just one class at UFV, while also attending Columbia Bible College full-time – playing in his first year in the BCIHL. He played 23 games that year and registered two assists.
The following season, wanting to attend a Christian university, Holmes transferred to Trinity Western and joined up with the Spartans hockey team.
“I prayed about it a lot and [Trinity Western] was where I was called to go, so here I am,” Holmes said. “I really like the amount of support the Spartans get at the school. I’m just having fun playing hockey again.”
While Holmes has seen spot duty at forward, he’s largely been a defenceman for the Spartans and that’s where he’s been most effective.
“He’s definitely skilled,” said Spartans coach Dwayne Lowdermilk. “He knows how to body-position. He knows how to protect the puck. He’s very good on the defensive side. He’s smooth and calm and cool out there.”
Since coming to Trinity Western, Holmes has played in 38 games and has one goal – scoring his first BCIHL goal Oct. 29, 2011 against Okanagan – and six assists. The only knock on Holmes’ play, and it’s not the worst things in the world, is he thinks too much. Both on and off the ice he’s a thinker – he’s taking business but also taking the pre-requisites for medical school – but on the ice Lowdermilk wants him to think less.
“He’s a very intelligent guy,” Lowdermilk said. “He thinks everything through. When he thinks for a play, it takes time and space and what he needs to do is stop thinking and get his feet moving.”
But while his thinking is something Lowdermilk has been trying to diminish on the ice, off the ice, Holmes is a leader on the team, largely in a spiritual capacity. He is often the leader of the team chapels, bible studies and prayer times.
While he may not have arrived at Trinity Western via the most conventional path, since coming he’s been steady. And he’s been someone who has just taken everything as it comes in stride.
Five years away from the game?
Apparently, no problem.
Last Updated: 2012-07-12