Six years ago we left our home, family and friends in Pittsburgh to move to Southwest Florida. Ft. Meyers and specifically Miromar Lakes/Estero. As any change in life does, it provided an opportunity. As with change comes growth from new experience and new relationships. With the move allowed a better and more lucrative work schedule. Family time increased while we still provided a place for the boys to enjoy their main sport, Ice Hockey.
Added was the wonderful new relationships built.
Through 2 different careers, one as a professional triathlete and 2 as a International Pilot, I’ve been blessed to race and fly all over the World. The opportunity to fly to Deep South America was fantastic. Besides flying one of the best aircrafts in the world , 777, the layovers are awesome. From surfing in Chile, mountain biking and running in the Andes to enjoying the cuisine of Argentina , Brazil and Chile, it has been very special. Meeting so many interesting people,Guys like Pablo (expedition mountain biking guide) or Andrea who runs the best empanadas shop in Buenos Aires or the many wonderful staff of the Hotels, all have been special.
Kelly and I adjusted quickly to the abundance of Great weather! Incredible lifestyle to be able to dress in shorts and T-shirt 365 days/ yr. To be able to open water swim, boat, paddle board in the Ocean or lakes has been a special treat. We both have loved the ambience of sun filled days. Going to the rink in shorts then stepping out in the warm Florida sun after an event or session is awesome.
The wonderful relationships we have developed has been incredible and we feel fortunate to be able to call so many friends . We’ve enjoyed many great times with friends at the club or pool. The many get togethers at our home have been such wonderful times.
Having good Friends who love to physically train has been terrific! Both Ryan’s and Chris. 2 ex professional Hockey players along with an ex Special forces makes for a competitive and fun group. How awesome to have athletes that desire the discomfort of intense training and pushing oneself and others to achieve.
Iron sharpening iron at every age.
When we moved to Ft Meyers the boys were all able to fit right in and excel and develop as kids and teenagers while having some of the best training in North America.
A tremendous gratitude and thankfulness to great coaches and even better people. Ryan McGinnis, Tad Ohad, Todd and Tyler , Brian Rafalski, Daryl Belfrey, Steve Jensen, Jim Brown and most of all Ryan Brindley. Yes all these fantastic coaches in one facility! Everyone , yes all of those coaches, always learning, and staying on the cusp of coaching and development. Their willingness to look beyond drama, egos and have such deep concern for the player is how so many of the boys develop in one facility . Truly a perfect storm for optimum player development.
A interesting discovery is that Florida is a hockey market with a rare characteristic to notice and appreciate. Kids develop and train in their local market then the elite come together to play at the highest level. It’s a unique model which has produced some of the highest percentage of high caliber players in a very small hockey populous market. Quite amazing!!
For the most part, the elite coaches in the State have a common goal of player development and work together to achieve such. Programs like Florida Alliance and Southwest Elite Hockey give great opportunities for player development. Most appreciate and embrace that common goal. A gratitude goes out to those I got a chance to work with, from Jacksonville to West Palm, to Tampa to Miami. Thanks Guys!
Though I had no big desire to Head coach again I was in a position after a coach took another position . Not just one year but after I gave the team away it happened again the next year. It’s always nice when a Freind gets an opportunity they are excited about. I was fortunate to coach such wonderful boys. It was a speculator blessing to be part of their growth as young men and athletes. I look forward to seeing their future success in College, Pro Hockey and Life.
Though we moved South for my job the reason we are moving back is many. Our boys love Pittsburgh, they love the change of season, they still miss the friends they grew up with. What they will realize as they mature is how special the opportunity they had living in Southwest Florida. It wasn’t easy moving from Pittsburgh but it will not be as easy leaving Ft Meyers as they may think.
Besides work ethic, gratitude may be one of the most important traits to foster. Hopefully they stay in touch with the special kids that they call friends. Gavin, Cole , Avery, Grady, Jack, have especially been a blessing but there are many more that will be missed hanging with. The World isn’t that big and the hockey world even smaller so they’ll cross paths in the future.
The biggest thanks I have is to my wife Kelly. Though much doesn’t dry under my feet my beautiful wife desires the opposite. She doesn’t always get the margin she deserves and would enjoy. She has done a spectacular job in home schooling our boys. She has been the cornerstone of their education after they left public schools the 1st year we arrived. Kelly puts up with my fast paced , too many careers lifestyle. She doesn’t get the chance, as I do, to have time away and that may be the most challenging part of the experience . Her commitment to our family is so incredible!!!!
Opportunity opened for us to return to Pittsburgh after 2 years but God had a reasoning for us to be here one more year and for that I am thankful.
People are fortunate if they have 1 place they call home, for my family we are now blessed to have 2.