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The Hockey Effect: How youth hockey shapes community leaders

03/08/2017, 3:45pm CST
By Minnesota Hockey Journal

Tom Sagissor President, RBC Wealth Management—U.S.

Editor’s Note: We’re proud to unveil a new series for 2017. The Hockey Effect: How youth hockey has shaped the lives of business professionals and community leaders in Minnesota. It’s not just a game—it’s a way of life. Know someone who should be featured? Email jessi@touchpointmedia.com to submit nominations. 
 

Tom Sagissor

President, RBC Wealth Management – U.S.
 

Minnesota Hockey Journal // What characteristics were built from playing hockey that translate to life now as an adult and parent?

Tom Sagissor // I think the biggest thing I learned from the game of hockey is that hard work will overcome talent and skill at any level. There’s no replacement for a high level compete attitude. I think if someone was to look at me and my career, they would never equate it with talent and skill. They would say that I, probably, was maybe one of the hardest working players on the ice. Because I had to be, to match the level of play that was needed to play at the levels that I did.

 

MHJ // How is hockey still involved in your life with your two sons or otherwise?

TS // I’ve been involved with the Stillwater youth program since we moved to that community back in 2001. Phil Housley was coaching. We brought Housley in to coach that team in the early 2000s and he just did a great job of creating a hockey development area. Matt Doman, who is there today, just took it to a whole new level of hockey development. What I did was, I supported them. I made sure that the things that we needed to do to develop hockey players were completed. It’s a passion and I love it.

 

MHJ // In working with Stillwater Area Hockey Association, what was the buildup like to Hockey Day Minnesota this year?

TS // We had some key people that helped us get ready for Hockey Day Minnesota. The real story was, about five or six years ago and I had a conversation with Greg Gartner. We were having a beer and we were just talking about Hockey Day Minnesota. It was during the season and Greg looked at me and said, ‘You know, we really should have Hockey Day in Stillwater.’ I said, ‘Yeah, you know, it would be pretty cool.’ We started talking about it. We took a vision, we took an idea. It was on the back of a bar napkin. When it was all completed, it was not just a hockey game, it was a community event that was represented by over 300-plus volunteers, the city planning commission, the mayor and the key people like Tony Novalany, who was the project manager that basically ran this whole Hockey Day Minnesota to a level of success that has now become a standard, that was never seen before. I can’t even tell you how proud I am of the community.

 

MHJ // Going through it yourself and now watching your kids, why is so hockey so influential in a kid’s life on and off the ice?

TS // I think what it comes down to is kids have so many decisions that they have to make. Some of these decisions are life-long decisions. When I say that, I mean you hope when your kid is 14, 15 years old that they make right decisions and they hang out with the right crowd of kids. And they do the right things when it comes to school work, and they do the right things when it comes to decisions away from school or away from the rink. I think what hockey does, just like any other sport, is it gives you the ability to build self-esteem. You get out, you learn the game, you learn the strategy, you learn the structure of listening to a coach, and you learn if you execute properly, you can win.

And when you do that successfully, then what happens is it builds your self-esteem. When they build that self-esteem, they have the ability to say no to the distractions that can create problems in their life, whether it be drugs or alcohol or different situations. I think the kids that really stay in the game, they stay focused and they understand accountability. Those kids become successful. Hockey only lasts so long, but it can teach you so many good things that are life-long. A lot of that is character, a lot of that is commitment, focus, and all of those things you use later in life when you’re contributing to society through a full-time job or raising a family or being a part of a community. I think a lot of those things are learned within a locker room and on the ice with your team.

A Little Bit of Background on Tom Sagissor…

Sagissor grew up playing hockey in Hastings before attending the University of Wisconsin, where he won a national championship with the Badgers in 1990. He was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens in the fifth round of the 1985 NHL Entry Draft as a junior in high school and later played in Montreal’s organization for the Fredericton Canadiens.

Sagissor also spent one season playing for the Ljubljana Dragons in Slovenia. Now with RBC Wealth Management, Sagissor is on the board of directors for the Herb Brooks Foundation and the Ronald McDonald House-Twin Cities. He lives in Stillwater and is active with the city and high school’s hockey programs in which his four sons have played.

MHJ // Going through it yourself and now watching your kids, why is so hockey so influential in a kid’s life on and off the ice?

 

TS // I think what it comes down to is kids have so many decisions that they have to make. Some of these decisions are life-long decisions. When I say that, I mean you hope when your kid is 14, 15 years old that they make right decisions and they hang out with the right crowd of kids. And they do the right things when it comes to school work, and they do the right things when it comes to decisions away from school or away from the rink. I think what hockey does, just like any other sport, is it gives you the ability to build self-esteem. You get out, you learn the game, you learn the strategy, you learn the structure of listening to a coach, and you learn if you execute properly, you can win. And when you do that successfully, then what happens is it builds your self-esteem.

When they build that self-esteem, they have the ability to say no to the distractions that can create problems in their life, whether it be drugs or alcohol or different situations. I think the kids that really stay in the game, they stay focused and they understand accountability. Those kids become successful. Hockey only lasts so long, but it can teach you so many good things that are life-long. A lot of that is character, a lot of that is commitment, focus, and all of those things you use later in life when you’re contributing to society through a full-time job or raising a family or being a part of a community. I think a lot of those things are learned within a locker room and on the ice with your team.

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