You could lose everything and never see it coming.
That’s the best thought I came up with to introduce Craig Cunningham’s talk from this year’s Coach’s Conference. Not because I want to scare anyone, but it’s because it’s the truth. When he woke up that morning, the former Vancouver Giant thought he was simply preparing for a game as he’d done hundreds of times prior.
But then something happened. Craig Cunningham collapsed on the ice in his AHL Tuscon Roadrunners jersey.
And his life changed forever.
One thing that bother me about the word adversity is how broad its implications are. Craig Cunningham went through adversity long before his incident. You probably experienced adversity on your drive to work this morning.
And that’s ok. A horrific experience inflicted on a professional hockey player doesn’t minimize the day to day challenges we all face.
But his response to that adversity?
Well, we can all learn from that.
I’ve got the snippet below playing in my office as I start writing, and more than one of Craig’s former teammates or acquaintances take notice. They each poke their heads in and tell me how great of a guy Craig is, a reputation that goes back to his minor and junior hockey days in Vancouver. He’s been an inspiration for as long as anyone can remember. I can remember the weight in our dressing room last year when another former Giants captain and our current captain Wes Vannieuwenhuizen asked if anyone had any information on his former teammate.
When serious situations confront the hockey world, that world shrinks and comes together.
But don’t take my word for it. Craig’s talk was quiet, serious, and clearly difficult to deliver. The snippet below includes a Q&A session, and more than one minor hockey coach standing up just to welcome, support, and thank Craig for his bravery in the face of the difficult road ahead.
The amazing thing is that Craig Cunningham isn’t trying to be inspirational.
He’s just trying to live and be involved with the game he loves so much.
Thank you, Craig.
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- Dallas Eakins – My Coaching Journey
- On Youth Athletes, Pressure, & Using Your Voice
- Craig Cunningham Interview on Sportnet 960