Breaking Sports

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Back to School for ex-NHL'ers

from the Toronto Star, It was not an idle retirement. Fourteen seasons and almost $5 million (U.S.) in salary earned during the NHL's pre-lockout days had set Garry Valk up for a lifestyle beyond the imagination of most 10-goal-a-season pluggers, certainly beyond the dreams of most 9-to-5 stiffs.
The former Maple Leaf managed properties he owned in Whistler, B.C., but mostly he skied, golfed and spent time with his wife and two young children. Valk figures he spent about 75 days on the slopes and another 50 on the links in the year after he left the Chicago Blackhawks' organization in 2003. Eight months ago, he bought a car dealership in Vancouver.
Life wasn't idle but it also wasn't ideal. The 37-year-old felt there was something missing.
Unlike the occasional, sensational story of a tormented former athlete found sleeping on a park bench or dead of a drug overdose, Valk's is a more representative situation for the modern player: Financially secure but unsure about how to take the next step toward self-fulfillment once the reality of being away from the game sets in; uncertain how, or if, the skills that ensured a lengthy career in sports, the discipline, perseverance, accountability and leadership, can transfer to the real world.
That is how Valk and his wife Tanya came to contact a "lifestyle coach" to help focus his interests. And it is how he came to fly across the continent to stand on the field at a Bridgeport (Conn.) Bluefish baseball game holding a microphone, talking to a 6-foot-5 minor leaguer about steroids in sport. And it is how he returned to Vancouver armed with tapes that will show his blossoming broadcast talent to the world.
And it is typical of how the Professional Athletes Transition Institute (PATI) is helping ex-NHLers find new direction on the verdant campus of Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Conn.
Valk was one of seven former big leaguers, as well as current player Jason York, to go back to school for five days of intensive broadcasting workshops last week....continued...