Jake and the Rat: a secret heart of gold
Coleton, affectionately referred to as "The Rat" because Jake thinks he looks like a rat, not because he tells secrets, came to my house as a junior hockey player at the age of 20. He came to check out his room before formally moving in and said his friend may also be joining the team. We had a room that was an office but it was small. He looked at my mom and I with hope filled eyes, that maybe we could take his friend too. So we discussed it for less than 5 minutes and decided to covert the office to a bedroom. Little did we know how big of a decision that would be. The Rat offered to take the small room as his giant sized friend would probably be more comfortable in the bigger bed.
Jake came a few days later with his big goofy, fun loving, whiskey drinking, humorous nature and it wasn't long before we became a little billet family. They respectfully always sat at the table for dinner and it instantly created an atmosphere of openness and often laughter. Telling stories from teams past, billets past, and places past, or just from the day, we all gathered around and started a new tradition of actually eating at the dinner table in our household.
Jake and I first really bonded when I asked him for a weird, quirky, cowardly favour in which he pretended to be a flower delivery guy. I had royally messed up and needed to apologize, and did so with a card with flowers. But being both scared and respectful of the fact that they may not want to see my face I asked Jake if he would deliver them to the door while I hid in the car. He poked fun but was more than willing to create a fake name, Jeremy from 1010 Flowers, and hand off the gift and card while I literally laid in the back seat of the vehicle.
A couple of weeks later in my basement I inquired about a project he was working on, designing and creating a company in honour of his close friend who was taken too soon. I realized right then and there that this Shrek-like guy has many layers and the more you peel the more you find a heart that is compassionate, a heart that is generous, a heart that is gold. His new clothing company was designed to give 12% of every purchase back to a fund, created in his friends name, that helps children who cant afford their academic or athletic pursuits. His company is called Arts Apparel and you can shop and support his clothing like at www.artsapparelclothing.com.
This young hockey player has played all over our great country, in great places with great people, but one of the things I respect the most is that regardless of his love of whiskey and misdemeanors, his character of kindness and compassion always shines through. He's recognized as an athlete and continues to play hockey in his hometown in Saskatchewan, but when you peel just one layer you discover a not so secret heart of gold.