Athlete feature:

Brendon Hurst “Lives Above the Line” as a Para Hockey Athlete

Not even Brendon Hurst himself, a former high school football player who never watched or played hockey until three years ago, would believe that he would represent Team BC, let alone Team Canada in para hockey.  

“Hockey is a lot different from other sports,” Brendon said of his transition from football to para hockey after Team BC para hockey goalie Mitchell Garrett introduced him to the sport.  “I’m still learning and developing, especially focusing on what I can do off the ice to help my on-ice performance.”

The steep learning curve of para hockey hasn’t discouraged Brendon from excelling in the para hockey program under SportAbility and Team BC.  “It’s very physically hard to use your arms as your legs on the ice, and you’re shooting and doing other tasks, too. But I enjoy the difficulty because it’s something to constantly work towards.”  

Para hockey has given Brendon ambition and purpose.  After joining a welcoming and supportive community, Brendon began training and developing bonds with teammates through going to tournaments, such as the Western Canadian Para Hockey Tournament.  

For Brendon, playing recreationally was just the beginning.  Through having a “living above the line” mindset, Brendon progressed through the development stream and has become a high-performance player.  He continuously improves his on-ice skills such, as puck handling, making good passes, and defending to complement his physical game. “My goals ahead are to get better at angling, get faster, and make better passes. You never reach a point where you can’t develop anymore.”

He also prepares himself off-ice through sleeping well, training hard, and working on weaknesses.  “Many people mistakenly think that only on-ice training matters in hockey, but your off-ice preparations are more important for your on-ice performance,” he emphasized.

Brendon stays disciplined with a personalized training program through Hockey Canada.  He trains six days a week with dedicated coaches and trainers to improve his strength and conditioning through doing cardio and weightlifting to achieve an ideal body weight to strength ratio.  “It’s been proven that you’ll be a faster and better player if you can lift more and weigh less because you’re moving your own body on the ice,” he explained.  

In addition to gaining speed and increasing agility through physical workouts, Brendon also follows a diet plan and wears a heart rate monitor for the coaches to track his heart rate while he works out and to log his required workout and ice times per week and month.  “All these are very time consuming, but it’s all worth it when you get to play in the national level and be with the team,” he shared on the national training program and schedule.

Brendon has represented Team Canada in a number of national selection camps and even some international events.  He hopes to continue to represent his country and make those around him proud.  “The thought of becoming one of the top players replays in my head,” he said.  “I still have a lot to learn to get there, but I can do it if I put my mind to it.”

Brendon is looking forward to the upcoming National Championships, which take place in May 2024 in Niagara, Ontario.  Knowing that the tournament will be “as hard as it gets” with players who are faster, physically stronger, and more experienced, Brendon will make sure he keeps his workouts and ice times, trains hard, eats well, and gets enough sleep.  “If you don’t put in the effort and prioritizing, you will fall short without meeting your maximum ability,” he reflected.

Having said all that, Brendon reminds para hockey players to have fun.  “You’re playing for the wrong reason if playing makes you feel stressed or if it’s unenjoyable,” he advised, adding that players must care for their physical and mental wellness if they want to develop and progress further.  “Things won’t come easy.  You’re always going to keep trying and you might fall short sometimes, but you just gotta build yourself back up and keep trying. You use your mistakes as motivation to get better.” 

Whether you want to compete at a National level like Brendon or if you’re just starting out, we have a para hockey program for you! Visit our programs page to learn more.

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