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Ted Nolan - Hockey is what I do, not who I am

NHL'er Ted Nolan's first pair of skates were so big that he had to stuff his rainboots inside to make them fit. He lived without indoor plumbing until he was 16.

I interviewed Ted Nolan at a conference I hosted for the Coffee Association of Canada. I could see how moved the audience was by his life story, as was I. Thankfully our conversation was recorded, so I can now share this incredible story with you.

Ted Nolan was born into a large family on the Garden River First Nation in northern Ontario. The third youngest of twelve children, in a house, lacking electricity and plumbing but full of love. The more the school system tried to strip away his indigenous identity, the harder he fought to preserve it.

This is the story of someone who made it to the NHL in the most unconventional way. It was Ted's passion, skill, grit, and ability to deal with rejection. Ted had to battle racism with fans, opponents and even fellow teammates and coaches.

Ted's favourite expression is hockey is what I do, not who I am, and many times Ted wanted to quit the game and return to the reservation and his family, where he felt he most belonged. He credits his parents' values and his wife's love for his perseverance. Ted played for six years with the Detroit Redwings and the Pittsburgh Penguins and became a successful and decorated coach nationally and internationally.

The episode touches on his hockey career and shows Ted's incredible dedication to his community. His foundation has provided over 300 scholarships. In, 13 Ted and his two sons, Brandon, and Jordan, who also played in the NHL—created the 3Nolans, to create hockey skills development camps for First Nation youth in First Nation communities across Canada.

Some fantastic takeaways on leadership and caring for others, and overcoming circumstances by never giving up.

Alan Richardson, SVP of Talent Strategy and Solutions at RBC, returns to Chatter that Matters to talk about wa to youth can find and pursue their chosen staff in life. Get Connected & Chatting


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