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Heading into the season of gratitude, we had the chance to sit down with Jaccob Slavin, professional defenseman within the National Hockey League for the Carolina Hurricanes, to talk all things gratitude, hockey and what you might find in his headphones before a game. 

Can you give us a little bit of background on yourself?

I’m a husband, father, and professional ice hockey player. Most importantly, I’m a follower of Christ. Was born and raised in a Christian home, and everything I do now from parenting to hockey to loving my neighbors well is for the glory of God. I love sports and playing all sports. Outside of hockey though, I'd love to be a golfer (not good enough for that) or a Spikeball competitor. That game is so fun! My wife’s name is Kylie and my daughter is Emersyn and she is 2 1/2! We have 2 dogs… Simba and Lola.

How did you first become interested in hockey? Who gave you your first pair of skates?

I have 4 siblings, two older and two younger. We all play hockey. So, from the time I could walk I was in skates or always at the rink watching my older brother and sister. My dad was the one to give me my first pair of skates. Both my little brothers are still playing hockey and have dreams of also being in the NHL one day.

Who taught you what it meant to be a man

My dad, Rob, has been the biggest role model in my life. He raised me to be a strong man of God and taught me all I know about work ethic and respect. One of the biggest things he would always tell me was, “work hard, be humble, and leave the rest to God.”

Favorite workout song?

I have a couple favorite workout songs…well really anything from Lecrae, KB, Andy Mineo, NF, Trip Lee… but specifics would be:

  • Coming in Hot- Lecrae and Andy Mineo

  • Just like you- Lecrae

  • Tell the World - Lecrae

  • 10k - KB

  • Armies - KB

  • Jason Pulllock- Andy Mineo

  • You can’t stop me - Andy Mineo

Do you have any specific pre-game rituals?

I think the biggest thing for me on game day would be eating a HUGE pregame meal with some ice cream at the end Top it off with taking a two hour pregame nap. Hockey is the best job ever–I get ice cream and naps!

Outside of hockey, what are your biggest pursuits (this could be anything, being present with family, trying to keep up with a meditation practice, etc.)

Outside of hockey I have a lot of things that are important to me. The main two that come to my mind are faith and family. I was born and raised in a Christian home and my relationship with Jesus is the most important thing in my life. Second to that is my wife and daughter, so spending quality time with them is something that is extremely important to me and something I love to do.

What is something you are extremely proud of?

I think one of the main things I’m extremely proud of is my family. All of my siblings have such different lives, from a cop to a teacher and the three of us that still play hockey. We are all so supportive of one another and continue to get closer and closer as we get older. Family reunions are so fun now!

Who is/was your hockey inspiration?

This is a two part answer. First, it was Dominik Hasek, he was an unbelievable goalie. Up until I was 10 years old, I actually played goalie and loved it. Secondly, Nik Lidstrom, one of the best defensemen to ever play the game and someone that I try to model my game after.

How do you find gratitude in hockey and in life? Any specific gratitude practices?

I think what I’m most grateful for in hockey and life is the process of both. The ups and downs that come and go during different seasons. The things that turn you into a better player or make you grow as a person. Whether that be good or bad things that happen, you grow during that time. So I’m thankful for all of the learning opportunities and growth opportunities.

Looking back on the past year and a half, the landscape of our daily lives has changed pretty dramatically. What are you most grateful for right now?

Right now I’m most grateful for the freedoms we have in this country, specifically with religious practices. I'm very grateful to be able to practice my religion freely.

What's the best part about being a professional hockey player?

The best part for me is the fact that I get to play hockey for a living. Now, it took A LOT of effort, work and sacrifice to get here but at the end of the day, I get to go out and play the game that I love as a job–that truly is so cool. On top of simply getting the play the game, one of my favorite parts is having teammates that you get to build relationships with.

If you could tell a young player, hoping to make big, any one thing, what would it be?

Never take an opportunity for granted. Some of the hardest times in hockey are those days you don’t want to work hard or go to the rink, but those are the days you need to make the most of. Hockey is supposed to be fun, so make the most of it every time you step on the ice.

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