T. J. Oshie and the Power of Peers
I have said a lot in previous posts and comments about the destructive effects that disruptive and apathetic kids can have on a classroom. In fact, I have said so much about it that I have the feeling that some people are getting a little tired of it. Okay, it's time for me to change my tune!
Just as poor students can have a negative effect on a school, motivated kids can have a very positive effect. Sometimes it's a group of students helping direct an individual student in the right direction, and sometimes it's an individual student having a profound effect on an entire class.
This is T. J. Oshie. The picture on the left shows him with his father, Tim, who is a member of our Indian Education Department and an assistant coach on our hockey staff, and the other picture shows T. J., who is not considered very big by hockey standards, running over a player from a foreign country who was unfortunate enough to get in his way when he played for our national junior team this past winter.
In 2005 our varsity hockey team at Warroad had a record of 29-0-2 and won the Minnesota State Class A Championship. T. J. was one of our captains, and he is the most talented hockey player I have ever coached. Because of his accomplishments at Warroad, he earned a full scholarship to the University of North Dakota, and he was a first round draft choice by the St. Louis Blues of the National Hockey League. This spring he finished a fantastic freshman season at UND. He earned a number of awards and honors, and it looks like he has a very bright future that could well include earning millions of dollars.
In addition to his wonderful talent, T. J. is one of the most enjoyable kids I've ever had the opportunity to work with. Many of our hockey practices at Warroad are grueling, but I've never seen anyone work so hard, yet have a smile on his face nearly all of the time while doing it. The spirit of joy that he brings to the game is contagious, and he boosts the morale of any team he plays on. But T. J. is also a classic example of what having peers who are good students can do for an individual.
T. J. moved with his dad to Warroad from the state of Washington at the beginning of his sophomore year. I had him in myAmerican history class, and he was not a good student. His effort was rarely better than mediocre, and I put him on our school's scholastic ineligibility list a number of times. If he'd have kept going the way he started at our school, I firmly believe that he'd have never been able to play hockey at a college.
But T. J. was very lucky because he came to our school at exactly the right time. T. J.'s number one love was hockey, and it would be the hockey players in his class--the class of 2005--who he would end up spending much of his time with. It just so happens that the this group of hockey players was the finest group of student-athletes that I've ever known.
Here is a picture that this group of hockey players had taken during their senior year. In order to avoid confusion and make my point, as well as to shorten things up a bit, I will only go through the players in the front row. I want to point out that if I say that a student was on the A honor roll, I mean that he was consistently on it, and not just for one or two marking periods.
On the far left is Kyle Hardwick. He was a defenseman, president of the senior class, and an A honor roll student. Next to him is Josh Brodeen, who was T. J.'s right wing, and a B honor roll student. Then, Eric Olimb, a defenseman, T. J.'s best friend, and an A honor roll student. Next is Mark Thiele, our goalie, and an A honor roll student. Next is T. J., then David Larson who was a defenseman and a B honor roll student. Next is Andy Brandt who was our third line center and a B honor roll student. Finally, on the far right is Ben Bengtson, T. J.'s left wing and an A honor roll student.
Believe me, our hockey players usually don't get grades like this (I wish they did!), but this was a very special class. These are the kids that T. J. would be hanging around with for three years, and when you hang around with kids like this, good things happen. So by the time this picture was taken in January of 2005, TJ, too, was a member of the A honor roll. Qualifying academically at UND never became an issue.
The one who deserves the most credit for T. J.'s success is T. J., himself. What talent, what personality, what a work ethic, and what character he has! But when you have big hopes and big dreams, it sure helps to have great friends to help you along. And that is something T. J. was definitely blessed with. And if you don't believe me, just ask T. J.!